Decades Later, Bobbie Gentry’s Music is Still Charming and Vibrant

She was an easy fit for a variety of genres.

Album Review

Bobbie Gentry
The Girl from Chickasaw County—The Complete Capitol Masters
Capitol/Ume

Mississippi-born Bobbie Gentry topped the pop charts in 1967 with the languid ballad “Ode to Billie Joe,” but there was a lot more to her than this mesmerizing hit. Boasting a husky voice that blended country, pop, and soul with understated flair, she released seven solid albums, then dropped out of sight in the early 80s and hasn’t been heard from since. Compiling all of those LPs on eight discs, along with 75 previously unreleased tracks, The Girl from Chickasaw County—The Complete Capitol Masters is an imposing yet thoroughly rewarding set that makes a strong case for her greatness. Gentry’s down-home charm made her an easy fit for everything from the Beatles and jazz standards to Nashville laments and Cajun shuffles, while originals like “Fancy” show she was an understated songwriter. Hardcore fans can savor a slew of demos and BBC TV appearances, as well as foreign-language obscurities, including a Japanese version of “The Fool on the Hill.” Perhaps the most impressive thing about Gentry’s music is how fresh and vibrant it still sounds.