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The Heart and Soul of Etta James

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Album Review

Blowin' in the Wind: The Gospel Soul of Etta James harkens back to Etta James' gospel upbringing, with big, bold arrangements that move along to the accompaniment of a full gospel choir. While James' vocals are strong throughout, the collection does, at times, sound a little phoned-in, but this is mostly because its instrumentation is satisfactory at best. There's really none of the performer's trademark grit here (although given its subject matter, maybe that's a good thing). Traditional gospel standards, like "He's Got the Whole World in His Hands," "Old Time Religion," and the medley "Amen/This Little Light of Mine" fare best. Overall, the collection is soulful and uplifting, even if it's not the best thing James has ever released.


Born: 25 January 1938 in Los Angeles, CA

Genre: R&B/Soul

Years Active: '50s, '60s, '70s, '80s, '90s, '00s, '10s

Few female R&B stars enjoyed the kind of consistent acclaim Etta James received throughout a career that spanned six decades; the celebrated producer Jerry Wexler once called her "the greatest of all modern blues singers," and she recorded a number of enduring hits, including "At Last," "Tell Mama," "I'd Rather Go Blind," and "All I Could Do Was Cry." At the same time, despite possessing one of the most powerful voices in music, James only belatedly gained the attention of the mainstream audience,...
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