Writer - A&M Records 1970
Carole King's many fine albums are to some extent overshadowed by her 1971 masterpiece, "Tapestry" and you may argue she never managed to record an album a whole that matches this. But in my opinion its predecessor "Writer" is absolutely on the same level – especially in terms of songwriting. Perhaps "Writer" can criticized it for being less clear in its direction and maybe for its sound and production, which has been improved on later reissues.
Apart from this minor objection, this is a rare collection of great songs written in a variety of genres and style spanning rock, soul, country, pop, etc. Great lyrics too by Gerry Goffin who is co-writer on all songs except "Raspberry Jam".
The opens strongly with the soul rocker "Spaceship Races," which in sound points towards the subsequent album "Tapestry". The same can be said of the soulful "No Easy Way Down," which is also recorded by Norah Jones and Dusty Springfield.
"Child of Mine" is a beautiful ballad which I assume was written for one of their daughters - very moving. The same applies to the more well-known "Goin 'Back", which has also been recorded by several other artist, among others, The Byrds and Dusty Springfield. Even though The Byrds’ version is unmatched, King's own version also really nice.
The countryflavored "To Love" is one of the less known songs - but still fine and shows a new side of the King. "What Have You Got to Lose" is almost funky and another more obscure song. "Eventually" is a beautiful ballad with Kings voice and piano as focal points.
"Raspberry Jam" is a jazzy song – in fact it is the only track I could do without. "Can’t You Be Real" is again an earlier song which was previously recorded by Betty Everett and which was later a minor hit for Helen Reddy. "I Can't Hear You No More" is an up-beat soul song.
"Sweet Sweetheart" is a great pop-soul track which features acoustic guitar from James Taylor , with whom King often appeared and who had a big hit with King's "You've Got a Friend".
Taylor also hit also later with the final song "Up on the Roof", which is one of the finest songs on "Writer" - King's own version is for me the ultimate - very moving and lyrically related with John Sebastian's "Daydream" and Ray Davies’ '"Sunny Afternoon", "Sitting by the Riverside" and several others. Actually, the song was already a hit for The Drifters in 1962 when King was only 20 years old.
To sum it up, this is a great album from one the greatest songwriters in pop-history.