Producers Nick Patrick and Don Reedman spearheaded If I Can Dream, the 2015 album that paired old Elvis Presley recordings with new overdubs from the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra. If I Can Dream turned into something of an international sensation, spawning a pair of sequels from Elvis and opening the door for similar sets, such as 2017's A Brand New Me, where Patrick and Reedman pair the Royal Philharmonic with Aretha Franklin. Unlike Elvis, Aretha is alive and well in 2017, but the producers choose to dress up Franklin's classic Atlantic recordings in a manner similar to what they did with Elvis. Comparatively, it's not quite as sticky as Presley, who had a wealth of schlocky middle-of-the-road material to use as a foundation, but that means the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra feels even more intrusive, offering unnecessary strings to recordings that were already sublime. Furthermore, the whole concept of the record is a bit off-putting: it's as if the producers were eager to create a posthumous Aretha Franklin album while she's still alive.
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AllMusic Review by Stephen Thomas Erlewine