|Aretha "A Woman Falling Out Of Love"|
“A Woman Falling Out Of Love” is the thirty-eighth studio album from the Queen of soul, Aretha Franklin who has influenced generations of divas ranging from Whitney Houston to Jennifer Hudson. As usual, on this album as well, her legendary voice takes the centre stage although it is now considerably thin and occasionally scratchy. There was no major promotion for this album that many of us, fans did not even know when it first came out. (Unless you live in the States and routinely go to WalMart). The album is exclusively sold at WalMart and also the very first release from her own label, Aretha’s Records.
In general, this album is a solid effort from Sister Rie particularly for the one-in-millions voice of hers and her still-impressive vocals. It is amazing that she still has the determination to sing, tour and put out albums at the age of 69. It looks like there’s no stopping her and she’s still going strong after 5 decades in music. (More power to her!).
Aretha sings the blues on the set’s stand-out track “Sweet Sixteen”, a tribute to B.B King. Her vocals are fearless and fierce; a reminiscence of young Aretha and her earlier works. “U Can’t See Me” is a fun song where Aretha lets her hair down and has fun doing adlibs.(Full of Diva attitude and appeal) “How Long I’ve Been Waiting”, the first single from this album and “Put It Back Together Again” sound like throwback Rn’B tunes from yesteryears and remind me of her previous albums like “Who’s Zooming Who? (1985)” and “What You See Is What You Sweat (1991)”. Aretha’s soaring vocals reach the new height with two other old school slow-jams, “A Summer Place” and “When Two Become One”, both my personal favorites from the album. “His Eye Is On The Sparrow” is performed by her son, Eddie Franklin who’s got incredible vocals like his mama. His version of this renowned gospel song is awe-inspiring as well.
We all know that even if Aretha picks up a cafeteria menu and sings through the items, it will no doubt sound soulful and sensational. However, there are a few tracks that she oversings to the max. Her rendition of Barbra Streisand’s “The Way We Were” is a mess. Even Ron Isley of The Isley Brothers can’t help make it better. I feel that together they ruin the song and make it totally unrecognizable. “My Country ‘Tis of Thee” is the song she sang at the Obama's inauguration. My humble opinion is that the patriotic message of the song loses its meaning due to Aretha’s uber-melismatic vocal runs and high-pitched wails. I wish she would have toned it down and sung it a bit simpler. Sometimes less is definitely more. Especially when you are already regarded as one of the greatest singers in the world and have nothing to prove your worth anymore. “Faithful” is a gospel number between the gospel great, Karen Clark-Sheard and Aretha. However, it turns out to be more of a screaming match towards the end that even the big man above that they are praising must feel totally confused. (Are they fighting??? Who snatches whose wig???) My ears were ringing once that track finished. “New Day” is supposed to be an inspirational track with lyrics carrying the message of “New day, on the horizon, you can make it, if you try” but she sounds like she is bored singing that song and can’t be bothered no mo. Her delivery is somewhat low-energy on this one.
While this album may not be Aretha’s best, it is still by far one of the best Rn’B records that came out this year and much better than her 2008 Christmas album... vocally. Besides, considering the mindless junk music that is dominating the world’s air waves right now, “A Woman Falling Out Of Love” feels like a breath of fresh air, packaged with that distinctive voice of hers and her no-nonsense singing. Kudos to the Queen.