On her Philadelphia album, A Brand New Me (released in Britain as From Dusty . . . With Love), Dusty makes the most of her startling versatility as a vocalist. Indeed, as Feldman notes, with all tracks co-written by Kenny Gamble and consequently sharing a similar, smooth pop-soul flavor, Dusty had to rely more than ever on her vocal and interpretive resources to give the album a sense of variety.
Throughout the album notes Dusty's biographer Lucy O'Brien, "Dusty projects a laid-back funky persona that suits the material. 'The Star Of My Show' for instance, elicits from her a fine funky performance, with an abrupt orchestrated rift punctuating each refrain. 'Let Me In Your Way' finds her muted and ironic, adding a languid shading and toning to the flutey soul girl backing chorus, while 'Never Love Again' is a reflective ballad that has the trademark plangent Gamble and Huff bassline and emotive crescendo."
In his commentary for 1997's The Dusty Springfield Anthology, Rob Hoerburger concedes that the songwriting on A Brand New Me wasn't "quite up to the mastery of the Memphis set." Nevertheless, Dusty's rapport with her producers and "the rest of the cats at Sigma Sound in Philadelphia . . . added up to more than notes and words on a lead sheet."
A Brand New Me, Hoerburger states, is "after-hours music made by musicians for one another's sake" - a sound that suggests "the Philly boys uncoiling their sweet grooves and insistent riffs, and Dusty singing, shoes off, hair down, make-up smudged, a couple of drinks past midnight, landing in that place somewhere between sobriety and inebriation where you can't help bumping into your true self."
Released in January 1970, A Brand New Me was at best, a moderate transatlantic success. "It could have been," suggests Feldman, "that the public and radio-programmers had trouble accepting a brand new Dusty. Then again, Dusty may simply have been in the right place at the wrong time. She brought the raw goods to Philadelphia, but Gamble and Huff hadn't yet fined tuned their hit-making machine."
The story of Dusty's third, and for many years "lost" album with Atlantic Records, is both fascinating and infuriating. Paul Howes in his excellent 2001 book The Complete Dusty Springfield, tells it this way: "Dusty left Atlantic Records, reportedly because she fell out with top executives, and the [12-track] Jeff Barry-produced album was shelved as a result. Up to that time , only four of the tracks recorded with Barry had been released so the remaining tracks, including [a definitive recording of Carole King's] 'You've Got A Friend', were forgotten about. In fact, Atlantic lost all the tapes; in all probability they were destroyed in the mid-1970s fire along with many other Atlantic recordings. It wasn't until Barry was approached in the mid-1990s that the recordings' release could be envisaged, because Atlantic had never sent copies to Dusty's UK record company. Fortunately, Barry had kept stereo mixes of all 13 tracks" (see February 1999 News).
Of Dusty's recording of "You've Got A Friend", Howes writes that the song was a "major hit for James Taylor on both sides of the Atlantic in the summer of 1971. Dusty's recording predates Taylor's hit and it's probably futile to imagine what turn Dusty's career might have taken had her version been released before Taylor's. While it's a good song, it's not one of Carole King's best. Taylor's monotone reading tends to labour it but with Dusty's light, soulful vocals and an abundance of Dustyisms, the song takes on a life hitherto denied it. Accompaniment is minimal, predominantly piano, and Dusty harmonises with herself on each chorus. The song fades with a spirited, gospelish chanting of the title by Dusty and her backing singer Gladys" (i.e. Dusty herself--see the article Dusty Changes Her Name To Gladys Thong!).