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ALBUM REVIEW | SOUL

Aretha Franklin, ‘Sings the Great Diva Classics’

Divas are everywhere these days, but there’s still only one Aretha. At age 72, Franklin can still shut down the competition with a breathtaking, gospel-trained grace and power. Here, she tackles tunes by her peers, adding royal luster to Gladys Knight’s “Midnight Train to Georgia” and the Supremes’ “You Keep Me Hangin’ On.” But she saves extra energy for songs by younger neo-soul stars. She adds a welcome reggae feel to Alicia Keys’s “No One,” and takes Adele’s “Rolling in the Deep” to stratospheric heights, her rocket-boosted vocals amplified by a backing chorus featuring fellow soul veteran Cissy Houston. When Franklin then surprises with a segue into the Motown classic “Ain’t No Mountain High Enough,” the wow factor is off the charts. That’s also the case on a mashup of Chaka Khan’s “I’m Every Woman” with a revived version of Otis Redding’s “Respect,” on which Franklin ad-libs, “I am the Queen.” Let there be no argument about that. (Out Tuesday)

STEVE MORSE

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