Etta James: The Dreamer

Album review
Etta James: The Dreamer

Etta James

The Dreamer

Label: Verve
Media: CD
Genre: Rock/pop

There’s a dark pall cast over The Dreamer. The album cover depicts her wan face cloaked in a black shroud-like hood. It’s to be Etta James’ last—she’s been diagnosed with dementia and her 50- year career has come to a close. Yet these performances, of songs drenched in deep blues and penned by some of the finest blues songwriters, are a testament to one of the greatest singers ever to step up to a microphone. What’s not to like about her sultry take on Ray Charles’ “In the Evening,” with its slow tempo and slinky guitar lines? The pensive title track, by Bobby Blue Bland, is as sassy as anything James has recorded. “Misty Blue,” which echoes the melody of her hit “I’d Rather Go Blind,” is an instant classic. She even makes Guns N Roses’ “Welcome to the Jungle” her own. Yet we’re reminded that this is a farewell in her reflective reading of Otis Redding’s “Champagne & Wine,” and especially the companion piece “Cigarettes & Coffee”—songs tinged with a sad beauty. James no longer has the raw vocal power that marked her best work, but even in this frailer form, her soulfulness draws you into this glorious swan song

More Info

  • primary artist, Etta James
  • CD

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