Etta James

Etta James

Heart of a Woman

Matriarch of the Blues

Private Music

Love Songs


A trio of releases from the divalicious Etta James deftly showcases her immense talent.

Heart of a Woman is a collection of songs personally selected by Ms. James herself and dedicated to her own role models, Dinah Washington, Billie Holiday, Sarah Vaughn, and Carmen McRae. The influence is obvious; her smooth vocals never overpowering the delicate stylings of “You Don’t Know What Love Is,” “Good Morning Heartache,” and Duke Ellington’s “I Got It Bad and That Ain’t Good.” She rounds out the CD with an unlikely cover of Alice Cooper’s “Only Women Bleed.” The songs are soft and subtle, perfect to be played on a rainy afternoon.

Matriarch of the Blues is drenched with Ms. James’ richly soulful tones. Launching out of the gate with the rumbling “Gotta Serve Somebody,” Matriarch twangs and grooves along with a Spanish-guitar flavored “Let’s Straighten It Out” and a stripped-down, boozy cover of “Hound Dog.” “Born on the Bayou” sizzles with Ms James’ incomparable voice, while “Try a Little Tenderness” is like a warm, soft breeze on a summer evening. The Rolling Stones’ “Miss You” gets a bluesy treatment that’s sweet and tart like molasses.

Love Songs is exactly that, 14 sexy and sultry tracks that make this CD the highlight of the trio. Ms James’ voice smolders and purrs through the re-mastered classics (originally recorded in the 1960s and ’70s.) The stellar “At Last” sets the mood, and stands out as the best track on Love Songs. Her sax-driven duet with Harvey Fuqua, “If I Can’t Have You,” is perfect for a grindingly-risque slow dance, or if a more romantic mood is desired, then light some candles and cuddle up with “My Dearest Darling,” “Someone To Watch Over Me,” and “A Sunday Kind of Love.”

Private Music, 1540 Broadway, New York, NY 10036-4098,; MCA/Chess, 2220 Colorado Avenue, Santa Monica, CA 90404

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked with *

Recently on Ink 19...

  • Jacqueline Kerrod
    Jacqueline Kerrod

    17 Days in December (Orenda Records). Review by Bob Pomeroy.

  • Pokey Lafarge
    Pokey Lafarge

    In The Blossom Of Their Shade (New West Records). Review by Jeremy Glazier.

  • Best of Film 2021
    Best of Film 2021

    Lily and Generoso select and review their ten favorite features, seven supplemental films, and two prized repertory releases of 2021.

  • I Saw A Dozen Faces…
    I Saw A Dozen Faces…

    From The Windbreakers to Bark, Tim Lee is a trooper in the rock and roll trenches…and he’s lived to tell it all in his new memoir.

  • The Lyons
    The Lyons

    A man on his deathbed is surrounded by bickering family members, many of which you would strangle him given the chance. In other words: a brilliant comedy!

  • The Reading Room
    The Reading Room

    Today’s episode features author Anna-Marie O’Brien talking about her book Adventures of a Metalhead Librarian: A Rock N’ Roll Memoir with Ink 19’s Rose Petralia.

  • Bush Tetras
    Bush Tetras

    Rhythm and Paranoia (Wharf Cat). Review by Scott Adams.

  • Tom Tom Club
    Tom Tom Club

    The Good The Bad and the Funky (Nacional). Review by Julius C. Lacking.

  • Barnes & Barnes
    Barnes & Barnes

    Pancake Dream (Demented Punk Records). Review by Carl F. Gauze.

  • Jeremiah Lockwood
    Jeremiah Lockwood

    A Great Miracle: Jeremiah Lockwood’s Guitar Soli Chanukah Album (Reboot). Review by Bob Pomeroy.

From the Archives