With the 1971 release Gonna Take a Miracle, pop composer and vocalist Laura Nyro completed her four-album/four-year deal for Columbia. Nyro's passion for R&B can be traced back to some of her earliest compositions, such as "Wedding Bell Blues" and "Stoned Soul Picnic" -- both of which were covered by the R&B vocal quintet the Fifth Dimension. More recently, her version of "Up on the Roof" was one of the highlights of Christmas and the Beads of Sweat. So, enthusiasts who had paid any attention at all to the course of Nyro's career would not have been surprised by her direction on this project. As much as Gonna Take a Miracle is indeed a Laura Nyro album, it could likewise, and perhaps more accurately, be described as a collaborative effort between Nyro and the female soul trio LaBelle -- featuring Patti LaBelle, Nona Hendryx, and Sarah Dash -- as well as producers Kenny Gamble and Leon Huff. It is ultimately this team
that is responsible for the album's overwhelmingly solid results. Leading off in an apropos style is a succulent cover of the Shirelles hit "I Met Him on a Sunday." The vocal performance is structured as a round -- with each woman singing a consecutive line. The song is rightfully returned to the street corner doo wop tradition from which it originated with the simplicity of unadorned vocals creating an inconspicuous a cappella symphony. Nyro has never sounded so comfortable, easy, or "in her element" than she does backed by an all-star Philly soul ensemble that Gamble and Huff assembled for these sessions. The material reaches beyond just the sounds of Philadelphia, with Motown ("You've Really Got a Hold on Me" and "Nowhere to Run") and Brill Building ("Spanish Harlem"), as well as lesser-known covers of the Charts' "Desiree" and the Baltimore-based Royalettes "It's Gonna Take a Miracle."