One of the most joyous soul-rock hybrids ever released.
Daryl Easlea 2009
From opener Reasons on, Perfect Angel is one of the most joyous soul-rock hybrids ever released. With Riperton standing away from her group, Rotary Connection, in the early 70s, Perfect Angel was her second solo album, following on from 1970's Come To My Garden.
She'd been living in semi-retirement, bringing up her children with husband Richard Rudolph in Florida. She had returned to singing, supporting Stevie Wonder as part of his Wonderlove and singing on Fulfillingness' First Finale.
Although it was the Wonder connection that made her hot again, she had all the talent already. Perfect Angel consists of seven Rudolph/Riperton originals plus Stevie Wonder's title track, complete with its incorporation of Shirley Ellis' Clapping Song. It is a joyous example of a writer and his muse being both at their creative peak.
Showcasing her five-octave range, Perfect Angel is infused with the hanging loose at home vibe of the era – It's So Nice (To See Old Friends) typifies this blessed-out approach.
And all of this is before Lovin' You, one of the tenderest records ever to grace the US top spot. With its extended chant to Maya, her daughter, at the end, it is still as affecting now as when it was first heard.
Perfect Angel owes more to a Van Morrison album of the early 70s than to any out-and-out soul record. It's bucolic, laid back, freewheeling and a pleasure from start to finish. Its mix of sultriness and innocence reminds us if just how great a loss Riperton – who died tragically young of cancer in 1979 – was to the world.