Aretha Franklin: A Brand New Me

revew franklin x1 cong

This is pretty good. Some digital boffins have got Franklin’s original vocals from her classic Atlantic masters, hired the Royal Philharmonic, booked Abbey Road studios — which always sounds good in a Press release — and then mixed the new music and old vocals, with added backing vocals from Patti Austin.

What you get is the Queen of Soul at full power, carefully thought-out and arranged orchestral scores (with rock drums and a solid horn section) and a fresh sound to old hits, without losing the power of the originals. This is not Franklin covering her old tunes backed by a Stars On 45-style disco string section.

It kicks off strongly, a vaguely Shaft-like string arrangement building up to and leading into Think. You get a breather with Don’t Play That Song (You Lied) but there’s another good update, I Say a Little Prayer, which opens with romantic strings but is otherwise a big, soulful take on the song.

The two closers are a bluesy, meaty revamp of Son Of A Preacher Man and a strong Respect. Overall: not quite the originals but a fresh take on classic songs.

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