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Soul Express CD of the Month - September-October 2011

Aretha Franklin: A Woman Falling out of Love

US Aretha's Records CD, 2011

Rating: 9/ 10

Buy this album from our CD Shop
1) How Long I've Been Waiting 2) Sweet Sixteen 3) This You Should Know 4) U Can't See Me 5) A Summer Place 6) The Way We Were 7) New Day 8) Put It Back Together Again 9) Faithful 10) His Eyes Is on the Sparrow 11) When 2 Become One
Bonus track:
12) My Country 'tis of Thee

This album, the latest new set by the Queen of Soul, Aretha Franklin, has been available since last May, but we've been waiting for an "official" release - now it seems the album will remain a "Walmart exclusive", which means it is available only at Walmart in the United States. But even Walmart took their copies of the CD away for a while, when it appeared that there was a manufacturer error on each CD - there is a seven second break on track 5 of the album. It has been obviously corrected now for the new copies, and for those who bought the original print, a free download track has been provided by Walmart online. All this means that we Europeans have to buy the album from eBay or Amazon Marketplace, as Walmart does not sell abroad...

However, it's a downright shame that an album like this is released on Aretha's own label and is only in limited distribution. As this is really a 100 % Aretha Franklin release, with no compromises. Frankly, I prefer this kind of "self-released" albums to typical today's major label releases. I can well imagine that if Arista would have released a new Aretha Franklin album, it would probably have been produced by the Jay-Z and featuring Rihanna, Beyonce and R. Kelly as guest artists. Now we have no rappers or R&B stars, instead we have Aretha's son Eddie Franklin singing one track, gospel heroine Karen Clark-Sheard duetting on Faithful and Ronald Isley featured on The Way We Were. A bit rootsier!

As a matter fact, at places I started to think this was getting almost too rootsy for yours truly as well, when Aretha is singing B.B. King's bravura Sweet Little Thing or music from 1744, My Country 'Tis of Thee, the bonus track. But luckily, the main course here are still the timeless soul ballads, of which we have plenty to choose from. Ronald Isley and Aretha duetted already on Ron's previous set Mr. I, and the twosome is again in great form on The Way We Were. Even better are, though, the Norman West contribution Put It Back Together Again or the self-written opening song How Long I've Been Waiting.

Still, my favourite track on the album is one of the more modern cuts on offer, entitled U Can't See Me. It's a very modern, almost neo-soul type of beat ballad, with a jazzy melody and Aretha really is in her element while she starts scatting at the end of the song. Wonderful!

Please make sure that you won't miss this album only because it is badly distributed. It is one of the best albums this year, that's for sure!

Reviewed by Ismo Tenkanen

Soul Express

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