Aretha Franklin: Rolling in the Deep

Posted September 30, 2014 by in R&B



2.5/ 5


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Producer: ,
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Genre: R&B, soul
Producer: Aretha Franklin, Harvey Mason
Writer: Adele, Paul Epworth
Label: RCA
Format: Digital download, streaming
Release Date: 29 September 2014


The "Ain't No Mountain High Enough" tag is a sweet addition


The unnecessary Autotune and overglossed backing vocals eats at Aretha's aesthetic

Lady Soul decides to roll around in Adele’s deep hit

by J Matthew Cobb
Full Article

Lady Soul decides to roll around in Adele’s deep hit

Recent press releases are humming to the tune of Aretha Franklin producing her first-ever covers album. That’s not exactly all true: In her pre-Atlantic era, Franklin covered the Great American Songbook; many of her classic soul albums flooded over with cover tunes. Even her majestic makeover of Otis Redding’s “Respect” was a cover tune. She practically covered other people’s material her whole life. Now that music mogul and lifelong career assistant Clive Davis has whispered in Lady Soul’s ear that a complete covers’ album was worthy of embarking, Franklin is traveling the familiar paths of others like Barry Manilow, Rod Stewart and Lionel Richie who have stepped into their golden years and are only reminiscing on the good ole days. It worked mightily on them and he’s probably most certain it will do the same for her.

For Franklin’s upcoming disc, Aretha Franklin Takes On The Great Diva Classics, she decided to rework Adele’s Grammy-winning “Rolling in the Deep” as the album’s first single. It sounds highly ambitious, especially covering a tune that’s so written in our psyche and embedded in karaoke culture. The template for this offering copies that of the original for the first half, except the choir uses a pop readiness and Franklin’s raspiness is most evident. She also uses melisma like a towering jazz singer. At times, all of those vocal exercises are very much overactive as it tends to curtail the timeless melody. But the song works well on her, particularly the gospel-flavored arrangement.

In Aretha fashion, the song segues into a timeless artifact from the America’s soul classics songbook: Ashford & Simpson’s “Ain’t No Mountain High Enough.” It’s chained down to the closing chorus of “Rolling in the Deep,” flaring up some of the lyrical bait of Adele’s tune. It makes sense in theory, since Aretha likes happy endings. Rather than nestling in the scorn of Adele’s heartbreak (“The scars of your love remind me of us”), she lifts the song on the wings of a gospel dove. We could have lived without all the necessary Autotune and modern-day glossiness of the backing singers. Plus, a robust choir or the legendary backing group of the late Luther Vandross would have been more fitting.

About the Author

J Matthew Cobb

Managing editor of HiFi Magazine


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