I’ll let you into a little secret. When Aretha Franklin’s record company asked me to review A Brand New Me – Aretha Franklin with the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra they were guaranteed a good review (not that I told them that!). Aretha has been my idol for as long as I can remember. The American singer-songwriter has an energy, force de majeure and depth that none can rival. Nile Rodgers says it succinctly about the most beautiful voice in the world …’Aretha is magic….lives in a place touched by G-d and angels’.
The Philharmonic version enhances and revitalises a message of love, gospel and of course Motown. So it’s become a classier gospel act from a church singer who has sung too many songs to mention and a staggering twenty R&B number ones revealing why her voice will stand the test of time. Tracks on the new release include Respect, (You Make Me Feel Like) A Natural Woman, Until You Come Back To me (That’s What I’m Gonna Do) and Son of a Preacher Man and what the Philharmonic Orchestra does is dramatise and add a classy tone breathing new life into a distinct sound.
Not that I need to but if I was forced to choose a favourite, You’re All I Need to Get By has to be the one. Actually, I’ll be bolder with my statement. You’re All I Need to Get By has to be the greatest Motown song of all time – uplifting with a sneaky mention of her other great song Respect – it’s rippling effect is felt in the hearts of all who choose to let it wash over them.
Who needs to go to church when the church of Aretha can invade your private sanctity with messages of prayer. ‘The moment I wake up, before I put on my make-up, I say a little prayer for you. While combing my hair, and wondering what dress to wear, I say a little prayer for you…’ Okay, so not the deepest words in the world but let’s face it, love is pretty basic if you want it to be. Who cares whether she’s singing about G-d or the love of her life. It’s an enduring love and that’s all we need to know.
If you’ve never had Aretha in your life then listen to the soothing, healing power of words that will resonate around the globe. I’m not religious in any way shape or form but the beauty of gospel is you don’t have to be. Just feel and share the love. It’s a great message to spread at this time of the year and the Philharmonic Orchestra coupled with the bold and beautiful Aretha’s warm tones have created the perfect background music for my seasonal family get-together.
A wee extra: And if you need any more persuasion on how good Aretha’s touch round the world is check out the clip of My Best friend’s Wedding from 1997 with Rupert Everett, Cameron Diaz and the whole cast bursting into song in their own very special way – priceless.
review by Susie Daniels