Top positive review
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Older and Wiser and No-Less Wonderful
on 20 November 2011
First things first. It has to be said : for a seventy three year old
woman Etta James' voice is in remarkable shape. That it has darkened
and deepened over time is of course inevitable but her singular gift has
not diminished with longevity. Her diction and phrasing remain impeccable
and the gritty, smoky edge which has always defined her vocal delivery
still stirs the blood. What she now lacks in decibels she more than makes
up for in style. Listening to her still makes our hearts beat faster!
Just listen to her marvellous rendition of Bobby Bland's 'Dreamer'
for a masterclass in the blues; without ever resorting to histrionics
or overstatement she makes the expression of every note and word count.
Her take on Guns and Roses "Welcome To The Jungle" redefines the song
as a delicious grunt-and-grooving piece of R&B; the swirling Hammond
organ and crisp snare drum urging her ever-on to nail it to the floor!
I'm a sucker for a slow blues song and Mme James' interpretation of 'Misty
Blue' truly is as good as it gets. An elegant and perfectly poised performance.
So too her heartfelt and soulful singing on the final track 'Let Me Down Easy'
but with 'Cigarettes and Coffee' a lifetime's experience is condensed into
an account of the composition which digs deep and comes back with something
so special that we can only hold our breath in wonder at her immutable artistry!
'The Dreamer' truly is one of the year's greatest joys.
(An Afterword : Etta James sadly passed away on 20th January 2012.
The listening world has lost a consummate artist and a great voice).