Laura Nyro’s ninth album Mother’s Spiritual was the second of her two “maternal” albums (1978’s Nested being the first). Mother’s Spiritual broke a long silence upon its release in 1984, being Nyro’s first new release in over five years, and was itself followed by a nearly decade-long absence from the studio. In contrast to the wild, adventurous music with which Nyro first made her reputation (Eli and the Thirteenth Confession, New York Tendaberry), Mother’s Spiritual exhibits a calm, serene, piano-centered sound. At the same time, Nyro introduces political, motherhood (both of a child and of the earth), feminist, and environmentalist themes into her writing. Thematically ahead of its time upon its initial release, Mother’s Spiritual was incredibly prescient with lyrics that are relevant to today’s world.
As Nyro biographer Michele Kort (author of Soul Picnic: The Music and Passion of Laura Nyro) comments in her liner notes, “When Laura Nyro released Mother’s Spiritual on Columbia Records in 1984, she certainly wasn’t tapping into the mainstream musical zeitgeist. It was a good year for women in pop music, but those women were named Cyndi Lauper, Tina Turner and Madonna, and they were singing about girls who just wanted to have fun. Nyro was no longer a girl, but a grown-up woman—a mother, a lover and, literally, a tree hugger. Motherhood pushed Nyro further into feminism, but it was a goddess-conscious ecofeminism, intimately close to nature. She drew lyrical imagery from the green environment now, in stark contrast to the urban dramas she played out in her extraordinary early albums. She also had new love to inspire her, this time in the form of a woman. The 14-cut album was a huge departure from the angsty, intense music of her early career, but repeated attention revealed the depth and richness of her new vision of both life and music.”
Cherished by longtime fans, Mother’s Spiritual has never before been widely available on CD. Digitally remastered by Grammy-winning engineer Vic Anesini in celebration of the album’s 25th anniversary, this reissue of Mother’s Spiritual includes a very special live bonus track of “Man in the Moon.” Taped in 1978 (a half decade before the song was completed in the studio), the live “Man in the Moon” sports an alternate lyric and different melodic development. It is, if anything, even more beautiful than the studio version, itself a highlight of Mother’s Spiritual.