Uncut - 11/03, p.1183 stars out of 5
- "...This is a competent set of drivetime love songs..."
Mojo (Publisher) - 11/03, pp.124-53 stars out of 5
- "...The songs are full of good cheer...all delivered with a sure touch....Lyrically, it feels like her most personal record in ages..."
Personnel includes: Aretha Franklin (vocals); Mary J. Blige (background vocals).
Producers include: Jimmy Jam & Terry Lewis, Barry Eastmond, Gordon Chambers.
SO DAMN HAPPY was nominated for the 2004 Grammy Award for Best R&B Album. "Wonderful" won for Best Traditional R&B Vocal Performance.
Personnel: Aretha Franklin (piano, background vocals); Bobby Ross Avila (guitar, keyboards); Michael Hart Thompson , Perry Hughes, Rick Williams (guitar); Gloria Agostini (harp); Olivia Koppell (violin, viola); Karen Karlsrud, Winterton Garvey, Anthony Posk, Gerald Tarack, Isreal Chorberg, Susan Heerema, Byung-Kook Kwak, Sheila Reinhold, Alexander Vselensky, Andy Stein, Robert Chausow, Cenovia Cummins , Joyce Hammann, Regis Iandiorio, Belinda Whitney (violin); Kenneth Burward-Hoy, Margeret Th. Hjaltested, Alfred Brown (viola); Leo Grinhauz, Jesse Levy, Eugene J. Moye, Kermit Moore (cello); Adi Yeshaya (strings, horns, keyboards); Michael Baker (strings, horns); Tommy Morgan (harmonica); Anthony Kadleck, Lew Soloff, Randy Brecker (trumpet); Sharon Moe, Roger Wendt (French horn); George Flynn , Keith O'Quinn, Birch Johnson (trombone); Norman West (piano, keyboards, synthesizer); Vernon D. Fails (Fender Rhodes piano); Darryl Houston (organ); Troy Taylor (keyboards, drums, programming, background vocals); William Bush, Ron "Amen-Ra" Lawrence (keyboards, drum programming); Barry J. Eastmond, James "Big Jim" Wright (keyboards); David Foster (string synthesizer); Nate Neblett, Ricky Lawson (drums); Kenya Lucas, Regine Lambert, Delant "Butta" Murphy, B.J., Melodie (hand claps); Paulinho Da Costa (percussion); Iz (drum programming); Cindy Mizelle, Sara Divine, Shelly Ponder, Myiia "Sunny" Davis, Sandra Dance, Gordon Chambers, Mildred Scott, Brenda Corbett, Mary J. Blige (background vocals).
Audio Mixers: Norman West; Charles "Prince Charles" Alexander ; Jean-Marie Horvat; Allen Sides ; Michael J. Powell; Aretha Franklin.
Recording information: East Bay Music Studios, Tarrytown, NY; Marvin's Room Studios, LA, CA; Mystery Lab, West Orange, NJ; Record One, Sherman Oaks, CA; Soup Can Studios, Detroit, MI; the Aretha Studio, Detroit, MI; The Hit Factory, New York, NY.
Photographer: Kwaku Alston.
Arrangers: Adi Yeshaya; William Bush; Barry J. Eastmond.
Aretha Franklin released only two new albums in the 1990s, but 2003 saw a flurry of activity, with Franklin putting out both the gospel album ONE LORD, ONE FAITH, ONE BAPTISM and this secular R&B disc. Her voice sounds as vibrant as ever, and most of the songs have a joyful feel that's no doubt influenced by the depth of Franklin's faith. The soft-grooving "Wonderful" and the slow-burning soul of the title track bespeak an inner jubilance, but this album isn't emotionally monochromatic. She gracefully plumbs the depths of disillusionment on the Burt Bacharach-produced/penned slow-jam "Falling Out of Love" and the remonstrative "Ain't No Way," where she even references her legendary hit "Respect." Still, it's no accident that things close on a decidedly spiritual note with the celebratory "Good News" and a reprisal of "You Are my Joy," a wedding song that--like Aretha herself--seems to have a direct link to the divine.