The good news is that Aretha Franklin, who just turned 69, is recording, and that her magnificent instrument, though thinning a bit, retains plenty of its power and agility. She's calling her own shots here, as executive producer, head of her own label and, on numerous tracks, producer and/or songwriter. There are magic moments: the vocal fireworks capping a cover of B.B. King's "Sweet Sixteen," and the playful Seventies-style soul-jazz jammy "U Can't See Me." But unmemorable songs and overcooked arrangements suggest too many opportunities squandered. Here's hoping the Roots, T Bone Burnett and Rick Rubin all submit producer applications for Her Majesty's next outing.
From The Archives Issue 1131: May 26, 2011