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Etta James’s “At Last!” & Emmylou Harris’s “Wrecking Ball”: Musical Albums Comparison Essay (Critical Writing)

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Updated: Oct 29th, 2021

This critique is addressing two musical albums “Etta James: At Last!” and “Emmylou Harris: Wrecking Ball”. The critique is a personal reaction and impression to listening to the albums, along with providing an evaluation of the impressions that occurred during listening.

Etta James: At Last!

The overall reaction of the album was that it contains solid hits, which is contrary to some modern releases that do not count on the title track only and provide a strong variety of material. The variety of genres is amazing as she performs Jazz in Stormy Weather” and “A Sunday Kind of Love,” as well as Willie Dixon’s blues classic “I Just Want to Make Love to You.”.

The title track is more of a mix of pop and blues swinging from delicate singing to more powerful shouting. The strongest element of the album is its variety, and unlike many singers with lengthy careers, and who could be excused for sticking with their particular theme and exploiting it to the extent, Etta James is stylistically restless.

Weak moments in the album were not spotted, although the only notion might be that the title song though being great has sounded in many or too many soundtracks that it became familiar, and does not provide the same impression it did the first time.

The music itself is great but the major part is Etta’s voice which delivered the most impression, for example, the title song was performed earlier by Glenn Miller it was Etta’s cover that gained the success and implies the emphasis on her voice more than on music.

Although the title might incline that all album is slowed down music, there is so much strength, energy, and vitality in the manner of performing.

The title track also has a memorable position as being one the most wanted tracks in weddings, which might be a pure coincidence, but at least on a personal level it is true and the song sounds very fitting for such an occasion.

Emmylou Harris: Wrecking Ball

The impression of Emmylou Harris’s album “Wrecking Ball” can start with a criticism. Even before listening to the album itself, the album’s name was quite discouraging to continue the acquaintance. However, the album turned out to be deep, sad, and breathtaking. The background known about Emmylou Harris is being rather a country singer, but this work is somewhat of a mix between rock, grunge, and folk.

The quality of all the tracks is at a high level, and many of the songs are duets with other performers, or in other words participated in songs, such as Daniel Lanois and Neil Young. The weaknesses of the album might be insignificant, but one of them is the manner of singing in which some of the words were not recognizable, but such trivia does not spoil the joy of listening at all. The songs that were most touching are “Every Grain of Sand”, “Sweet Old World, “Goodbye” and the most listened “Deeper Well” which required one time listening to have the first and the only impression of its genius.

The idea of trying something new turned brilliant and gave its benefits to Emmylou Harris. I think everyone found something new in this album whether it was a fan who used to her usual country-style music, or a first-time listener who appreciates good music, and the satisfaction would be guaranteed indeed.

Works Cited

James, Etta. At Last! Mca. 1961-1999.

Harris, Emmylou. Wrecking Ball. Asylum Records. 1995.

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"Etta James’s “At Last!” & Emmylou Harris’s “Wrecking Ball”: Musical Albums Comparison." IvyPanda, 29 Oct. 2021, ivypanda.com/essays/etta-jamess-at-last-amp-emmylou-harriss-wrecking-ball-musical-albums-comparison/.

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IvyPanda. "Etta James’s “At Last!” & Emmylou Harris’s “Wrecking Ball”: Musical Albums Comparison." October 29, 2021. https://ivypanda.com/essays/etta-jamess-at-last-amp-emmylou-harriss-wrecking-ball-musical-albums-comparison/.

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IvyPanda. 2021. "Etta James’s “At Last!” & Emmylou Harris’s “Wrecking Ball”: Musical Albums Comparison." October 29, 2021. https://ivypanda.com/essays/etta-jamess-at-last-amp-emmylou-harriss-wrecking-ball-musical-albums-comparison/.

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IvyPanda. (2021) 'Etta James’s “At Last!” & Emmylou Harris’s “Wrecking Ball”: Musical Albums Comparison'. 29 October.

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