Etta Britt – Etta Does Delbert | Album Review

ettabrittcdEtta Britt – Etta Does Delbert

Self-Release – 2014

12 tracks; 48 minutes 

Nashville based singer/songwriter Etta Britt put her singing career on hold while raising her family but her turn in the spotlight came about when her 2012 debut album attracted the attention of Delbert McClinton, leading to an invite to join the Sandy Beaches Cruise in 2014.  Heavily influenced by Delbert’s songwriting early on in her career, the idea of producing a CD of Delbert songs for the SBC cruisers seemed a good one.  The project got Delbert’s endorsement when he offered to participate and reaction to the album from the cruisers was so positive that Etta and husband Bob decided to issue it more widely.

The players assembled for the recording are a who’s who of Nashville talent, mainly associated with previous Delbert records: Kevin McKendree plays keys and engineered the sessions, Bob Britt plays guitar and produced the album, Steve Mackey is on bass, Lynn Williams on drums and Dana Robbins adds sax to one track.  Backing vocalists include the McCrary Sisters, Scat Springs, George Prendergrass and Bob Britt.  Delbert himself duets on one track and adds harmony vocals on another.

The Delbert catalogue is vast but Etta has selected some great songs here and anyone who likes Delbert’s music will find something to enjoy here.  Many of Delbert’s songs have already been covered and the album opens with “Somebody To Love You” which Etta James, Tommy Castro and Southside Johnny amongst others have recorded but this version stacks up well against those heavyweights.  Etta’s voice immediately impresses and the band rocks, Kevin pounding the piano as well as providing a warm organ cushion.

“Old Weakness (Comin’ On Strong)” is a great song and the band do it full justice, with more solid piano and Bob setting the pace with a killer riff as Etta testifies brilliantly.  Delbert duets with Etta on “Boy You Better Move On”, a jaunty country rocker before Etta delivers a lovely, warm version of the ballad “Starting A Rumor”, the sparse arrangement showing off her great voice particularly well. Two rockers follow in the funky “Lie No Better” and “Every Time I Roll The Dice” which has another terrific vocal from Etta and plenty of slide from Bob.

Possibly the most frequently covered of Delbert’s songs is the modern classic “You Were Never Mine” with outstanding versions by Janiva Magness and the late Lou Pride (this reviewer’s favourite) but Etta delivers her interpretation superbly. After the sadness of “You Were Never Mine” Etta lightens the mood with the good time “Best Of Me”, piano and guitar both getting into the honkytonk feel in short solos.

Englishman Mickey Jupp’s “I’m With You” has been a part of Delbert’s shows for many years and Etta again does the song full justice, aided by lots of background vocal support and another great band performance.  The jazzy shuffle of “New York City” is always fun and Bobby Charles’ “The Jealous Kind” is another outstanding performance from Etta with some exciting sax from Dana Robbins.

The final track is Etta and Kevin’s composition “When I Was With You” and it is fair to say that it sounds like it could have been a Delbert song, fitting in perfectly with the other eleven tunes here and giving us a taste of Etta’s songwriting ability.

Let’s face it, who doesn’t enjoy ‘a bit of Delbert’!  Here we have a whole album of many of his greatest songs, all played and sung superbly by a great band fronted by a powerhouse singer – go out and buy it!

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