A rare excursion into funk from one of R&B’s most venerable performers, Etta James saw Etta trying on a set of startlingly contemporary sounds. Etta James was something of a comeback for Etta, who reinvented herself under the aegis of a young Marshall Chess, the young-turk son of Chess founder Leonard, who was determined to update the classic Chess sound to reflect the tumultuous social and musical landscape of the psychedelic era. Etta James abounds in expertly played, fiercely progressive funk and Etta sounds thoroughly at home in her new sonic environs, effortlessly fitting her sultry vocals to the ethereal, with “Superfly” invoking strains of the string soaked opener “All The Way Down” and the wah-wah saturated funk of “Leave Your Hat On”. If anything, Etta James is less a work of stylistic innovation than it is a resounding confirmation of the spirit of gritty funkiness that had lurked beneath Etta’s work since the beginning of her career. The soulful torch song “Yesterday’s Music” with it’s refrain, “I can still hear yesterday’s music, it’s the same old melody” provides Etta James with a pointed statement of purpose, proclaiming a profound spiritual kinship between the funky sounds of the ‘70s and the classicism of Etta James’ early hits.