Aretha Franklin

Love Songs [Sony]

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As music in the early 21st century grows more complex in theme and instrumentation (albeit, electronically), it's always nice to revisit a classic. No one sings of love's woes and wins any better than Ms. Aretha Franklin. The Queen of Soul and preeminent diva, if there ever was one, lends her one of a kind vocal chords to the Columbia Legacy release Love Songs, an ongoing series of CD collections of the same name. (Other collections in the Love Songs series for 2001 include sets from Frank Sinatra, the Isley Brothers, Patti LaBelle, and Duke Ellington.) Smooth, silky, and full of class, Ms. Franklin weaves through such timeless classics as "Skylark," "Try a Little Tenderness," and "Only the Lonely," among others, on this 15-track collection. Three songs stand as the set's most choice numbers. "Drinking Again," with its lonely muted trumpet line, and "Muddy Water" and "Trouble in Mind," in all their juke-joint and "sing it sister!" glory, evoke listeners' inner jilted lover. The only things missing are a scotch on the rocks and wafting cigarette smoke. Lush orchestrations -- complete with strings, sultry saxophones, jazz and ragtime piano, and brush playing -- support the songstress on her Love Songs offering, and the mood is pure lounge, lounge, and more lounge. Kick back on the couch with a nice cabernet -- cuddle mate is purely optional, as Ms. Franklin gives listeners a sweet musical discourse on love that anyone, single or partnered, can vibe with.

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