A recent health scare was an eye-opener: the Queen of Soul Aretha Franklin won’t be around forever. The greatest soul singer of all time’s music will last forever, and Sony Legacy is making sure of that with their latest compilation of Franklin’s music, the 18-song disc Aretha Franklin: Great American Songbook.
The 68-year-old singer has one of those magical voices that transcends time no matter if she is singing, soul, blues, gospel or pop. This single-disc collection doesn’t span her career – that would be virtually impossible. Instead it focuses on the 1960s, when she began exploring many of those different styles of music.
In her 20s during these recordings, Franklin’s voice sounds so fresh and filled with emotion. She sings without restraint on classics written by the likes of Irving Berlin, Hoagy Carmichael, George and Ira Gershwin and Johnny Mercer, among others.
The disc soars instantly with the rousing mono-mix version of “Trouble In Mind,” then returns with her endearing take on the classic “Try A Little Tenderness.” One of the standout stracks, “Cold, Cold Heart,” radiates with bluesy melodies and a hint of gospel sound. Franklin’s vocals on “Only The Lonely” come off so innocently that you can’t help but feel her heartbreak. Further along, she has the ability to come back at you with the fiery performance on the closing track “That Lucky Old Sun (Just Rolls Around Heaven All Day)”
It is Franklin’s vocal ability that helps her pull off many different genres, not only on Aretha Franklin: Great American Songbook, but throughout her legendary career. Sure, most die hard fans will have these songs in their collection, but for the casual fan, this is a great offering to dive right in to and enjoy one of the most beautiful voices of music.