Hello Like Before
Label: Legacy Recordings
Withers' fifth album keeps his down-home soul-rock vibe intact while introducing a polished studio sound. The album would've fared better if the dizzyingly romantic ballad "Hello Like Before" had been released as a single (it remains a fan favorite). The other songs are up to that level and are highlighted by the philosophical "The Best You Can," the mournful "She's Lonely" (which shows off his skills as a lyricist) and the celebratory "Family Table." There is a toughness and rare pragmatism to songs like "Don't You Want to Stay?" that define Bill Withers.