"Anyone trying to reverse-engineer the particular way contemporary pop ballads are now sung— the careening melisma, the guttural, quasi-unscripted grunts, an apparently boundless capacity for emotion–needs only to consider a handful of tough, pioneering American singers: Bessie Smith, Sister Rosetta Tharpe, Alberta Hunter, Aretha Franklin, and Etta James. This past Record Store Day, Portland's Jackpot Records reissued James's masterwork, At Last!, on limited edition vinyl, including the four bonus tracks which first appeared on a CD reissue in 1999. More than a half-century after its release, At Last! remains one of the greatest records about loneliness ever made: a languid, jazz-inflected paean to (reluctantly) working it out on your own."
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