Review: ‘Aretha Franklin – ‘Jewels in the Crown’’

A lesson in the difference between timelessness and the dated, Aretha Franklin's collection of duets is weighed down by overwrought arrangements, the tinkling of 1980s electric keyboards and an eye-rolling attempt to play the modern R&B game.

A lesson in the difference between timelessness and the dated, Aretha Franklin’s collection of duets is weighed down by overwrought arrangements, the tinkling of 1980s electric keyboards and an eye-rolling attempt to play the modern R&B game. Franklin’s voice is the tower in this collection, featuring only three new recordings, and the only times that voice provides a beacon for her singing mate is on the live tracks with Mariah Carey and Bonnie Raitt. She plays the sage with Fantasia in the rapid-fire “heed my advice” tale “Put You Up on Game” that pales in comparison to the still fresh duet with Mary J. Blige, “Don’t Waste Your Time,” from 1999. Stacking up the tracks in this fashion only invites comparison and it’s no shocker: Blige is truly her only peer on record in communicating an honest sense of the done-wrong woman.

Aretha Franklin - 'Jewels in the Crown'

Arista
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