Ann Peebles was all of 22 years old when she cut her debut album for the great Memphis R&B label Hi Records, but she sure didn't sound like a novice once she stepped into the studio. This Is Ann Peebles is the work of a strong and confident artist who sounds thoroughly assured even when she's covering Aretha Franklin, and though Peebles doesn't quite take "Chain of Fools" away from the Queen of Soul, she gives it a taut but weary reading that lends that tale of romantic betrayal a flavour unique to Peebles' rendition.
That's not the only instantly recognizable cover Peebles was saddled with on her first LP, but she sounds even more assured on "It's Your Thing" and "Rescue Me," and on fresh material like "Crazy About You Baby," "Make Me Yours," and "Give Me Some Credit," her clear but resonant voice and emphatic readings establish her as a seasoned professional right out of the box. It doesn't hurt that Peebles was working with some of the best talent in Memphis on these sessions; the Hi Records rhythm section lays down a lean and indelible groove on every selection, the Memphis Horns punctuate the melodies with gale-force soul, and producer Willie Mitchell brings it all home with subtle but fiery results. It would be 1974 before Ann Peebles finally got the breakthrough hit she deserved with "I Can't Stand the Rain," but This Is Ann Peebles should convince anyone with a taste for classic rhythm & blues that she had the goods long before the rest of the world caught up with her.