Etta James

Let's Roll

RCA/Private Music 01934-11646-2

Etta James, vocals; Donto James, drums, percussion, vocals; Sametto James, bass; David K. Mathews, piano, Hammond B-3 and keyboards; Bobby Murray, electric guitar; Josh Sklair, electric and 12 string guitar, slide, acoustic guitar, banjo and synthesizer; Tom Poole, trumpet; Lee R. Thornburg, trumpet and trombone; Jimmy ìZî Zavala, tenor and baritone saxophone and harmonica

Let's Roll is an apt description for the new Etta James CD. James states in the liner notes that in naming this album she is giving honor to Todd Beamer, the hero of the 9/11 flight tragedy. She further states that this is a return to her rock -n roll roots and the strong blues/soul undercurrent is dominant throughout.

"The Blues Is My Business" is a good characterization for James, as she vocalizes "and business is good." The tune "Wayward Saints of Memphis" is a melancholy tribute to the street musicians out of the fields of Mississippi looking for salvation in the city. On "Lie No Better," the theme is that of the age-old infidelity issue. "Trust Yourself" has a more urban theme with good background harmony. "Stacked Deck" is a delightful bluesy tune which features a background audience response and a vocal exchange between James and her son, Donto. The gospel-infused vocals on "Please No More" are soul-stirring and no one does a pleading slow ballad quite like Etta James.

Out of the twelve cuts on this CD, there is not one ear-splitting moment which is refreshing on what is billed as rock -n roll! So sit back and relax on this one; this is soul in a rock -n roll context which is pure Etta James--her mesmerizing passion and emotion are unequalled after a career of five decades. The lady just keeps getting better and better.

by Dorothy Hill

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