Etta James: Life, Love & The Blues

Regal R&B diva Etta James is back with her finest disc in years, Life, Love & The Blues (Private Music 82162-2; 59:38). She snarls with gusto on imposing renditions of Albert King’s anthem “Born Under a Bad Sign” and on a distaff version of Muddy Waters’ menacing signature tune, “Hoochie Coochie Gal.” She gives soulful, telling testimony about the age-old art of infidelity on both “Running Out of Lies” and “Cheating in the Next Room” while the title track is a survivor’s tale done up in a haunting vibe. Etta turns in a smoldering, seductive rendition of Sly Stone’s “If You Want Me to Stay” and has her way with other soul icons on Al Green’s “Here I Am” and Marvin Gaye’s “Inner City Blues.” Her rendition of Willie Dixon’s “Spoonful” is appropriately down-in-the-alley and she bears her r&b soul on the moving ballad “The Love You Save May Be Your Own.” Delicious old-school R&B and earthy blues from one of the best.