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World Music CD Reviews North American

ETTA JAMES

By ROBERT KAYE
Published May 30, 2006

Let's Roll
Private Music

With her newest release, Let's Roll, multi-award winning diva Etta James shows that you don't have to be post-generation-x to know how to rock.  To the contrary, James, whose celebrated career spans back to 1954 (with her hit, "Roll With Me Henry"), is still singing with sensuous gusto. On tracks like "The Blues is My Business," James and band (featuring two of her sons) punch out the R&B-infused anthem, holding nothing back. The album's dozen songs run the gamut from libidinous New Orleans shuffles to hard-hitting rock to bittersweet country ballads to blues-swathed grooves, James' commanding vocals doing justice to them all. Periodically, some instrumental motifs sound slightly derivative of other popular hits. But James, with her powerful vocals and story-telling abilities, manages to supercede any sense of overt familiarity, giving each tune its own persona. No doubt about it, this granny still kicks serious butt.