17 June 2012

Etta James - The Dreamer [2011]

01. Groove Me
02. Champagne & Wine
03. Dreamer
04. Welcome To The Jungle
05. Misty Blue
06. Boondocks
07. Cigarettes & Coffee
08. In The Evening
09. Too Tired
10. That's The Chance You Take
11. Let Me Down Easy

Support the artist, purchase their music.
There aren’t many artists who get to officially make a retirement statement. Most stars just gradually fade away, or sometimes go supernova in a suitably spectacular fashion. Perhaps David Bowie has retired. Or is he merely taking a Miles Davis-styled sabbatical? For health reasons, the veteran Cape Verdean singer Cesária Évora has recently announced her final bow, and now the same situation has arrived with Etta James. This is a highly unusual circumstance in music, offering the opportunity to make a pre-meditated closing statement.

The production might be slick, but James relaxes into this framework, providing the necessary lived-in looseness. The songs get slower and slower, as James heads off into the golden distance. The closing Let Me Down Easy is a particular highlight. It's the longest song, with an extended climax that showers potent guitar-work around her lines, as the horns push steadily higher.