Our Artist of the Month puts her own mark on a new set of classic songs on “The Dreamer“. The disc opens with a rousing cover of King Floyd’s “Groove Me”. A toned down version of Guns and Roses “Welcome to the Jungle” is also found amongst “The Dreamer”. Your first thought may be “Guns and Roses cover?!”, then you think about who Ms. James was and what she still means to the music industry and it all makes sense. She was fearless, so tackling Guns and Roses was just another day for her. She also was a true artist who was known for fusing multiple genres into her music, so a hard rock/heavy metal cover is a fun nod to her diverse career.

James’ cover of Little Big Town’s “Boondocks” retains both the purity and authenticity of the original. Ms. James is so well emotionally connected to “Boondocks”, that you can easily forget that this is indeed a cover and not an original Etta Jams tune.

On her take on Johnny Guitar Watson’s “Too Tired”, Ms. James perfectly conveys the song’s title, even via her delivery. Ms. James adds her own signature ad libs to Little Milton’s “Let Me Down Easy”. The song veers between pleading for mercy and reminding her lover what a good woman she’s been to him.

Around the time of the release of “The Dreamer”, Ms. James’ family announced her retirement from the music business. Pick up “The Dreamer” to get a sense of where she was musically. The disc finds Ms. James doing something she was famous for, making the songs of other artists completely her own.

I also love “The Dreamer’s” cover photo, as it is a brooding mix of both edginess and wisdom, essential Etta James.

“The Dreamer” is available in its full length at Amazon.com.