Soul giant's first album since 1998's A Rose Is Still A Rose

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Aretha Franklin – So Damn Happy

While a new album from the Queen Of Soul is always welcome, this sounds oddly dated. Despite bringing in the producers behind Mary J Blige (Blige herself co-wrote two tracks and sings back-up) and Whitney Houston, not to mention Jam and Lewis, So Damn Happy won’t cut it with restless fans of today’s ‘urban divas’ Missy and Ashanti.

Through force of habit, Aretha warbles 18 notes wherever two would do, and while those 18 are invariably the right 18, if this was Mariah we’d be calling it tiresome. This is a competent set of drivetime love songs, full of lumpen phrases about holding on and staying strong, which you’ll respect rather than fancy.