She's no stranger to the towering highs and lows of the heart, and Etta James's soaring, gospel-tinged pipes match up well with the rigors of unabashed bliss. Happily, the good people at Chess Records recognize this, and they have thoughtfully collected some of the best examples into one tidy record. Kicking off with her classic treatment of "At Last," the collection moves through the lilting strings of "My Dearest Darling" on into the expressive tones of "I Want to Be Loved (But Only by You)" with grace and emotional candor. James can be simultaneously tender and deeply honest and her ability to express the desperate joy that is the soul of love remains one of life's marvelous pleasures. –Matthew Cooke
James Levine's viennese recording of Smetana's famed masterpiece is one of the best performances of the work around today. With clear, full-bodied digital recording and ripe, rich and opulent playing from the Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra, it presents a performance that is as comporable to Kubelik as any other. Despite Levine's roots in the theatre (Metropolitan Opera), he manages to grasp a clear sense of drama in the work, and while some might argue that he is mainly concerned with orchestral effect for its own sake, he certainly does not do this but presents every minute detail in this musical kaliedascopic picture.
Little was heard from James Blake throughout an almost three-year period that followed Overgrown, his second straight Top Ten U.K. album. He appeared on an Airhead track and released a 12" on his 1-800-Dinosaur label, yet it wasn't until February 2016, during his BBC Radio 1 program, that listeners got their initial taste of album three. Drawn like a scene from a dissolving relationship that immediately precedes release and relief, "Modern Soul" hinted that the album could be a bit brighter with less of the anguish that permeated the singer/producer's first two albums. Another song, a vaguely aching minimal dub ballad, was aired two months later, possibly chosen because it too had a title, "Timeless," that could potentially wind up detractors.