Aretha Franklin: A Brand New Me – getting the respect she deserves
A Brand New Me
Aretha Franklin and the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra
R&B / Soul
Following the success of If I Can Dream – Elvis Presley with the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, producers Nick Patrick and Don Reedman have decided to turn their attention, and approach, to the inimitable Aretha Franklin.
Celebrating the 50th anniversary of Franklin’s historic signing with Atlantic Records, this record folds in her classic Atlantic masters with newly recorded arrangements by the orchestra, recorded in Abbey Road studios, with backing vocals by Patti Austin.
The idea itself makes perfect sense, pairing Franklin’s legendary vocals with lush, new arrangements of her greatest hit songs for a full orchestra, but while certain arrangements recontextualise, and reappraise – for example, Think is even more visceral and immediate, I Say a Little Prayer unfurls as a kind of wistful wish, and Until You Come Back to Me That’s What I’m Gonna Do is all amplified melancholy, it might have been more interesting if Franklin had also been present in Abbey Road. The idea of hearing her revisit, after 50 years, songs like Respect, and Don’t Play That Song (You Lied) might have elevated this project from the fair to the great.