Etta James has been reaching down inside her soul and pulling out hardcore blues for 40 years. This excellent disc, partly inspired by Martin Scorsese's PBS series The Blues, features classics by such masters as John Lee Hooker ("Crawlin' King Snake"), Robert Johnson ("Dust My Broom") and Howlin' Wolf ("Smokestack Lightnin'"). James renders these tunes, plus such other standard blues as "Got My Mojo Working" and "Lil' Red Rooster," in reverent fashion, leaving the improvisation to her musicians. The rootsy band, including James's sons Donto (on drums) and Sametto (on bass), provides the singer with a very artful backdrop. Standout harmonica player John "Juke" Logan demonstrates why his instrument is so organically related to the blues, filling in between James's phrases as if he were reading her thoughts. At 66, James has earned the right to have a weathered-sounding voice, having overcome real-life trials, including drug and domestic abuse, that many other chanteuses have only sung about. As Scorsese writes in his liner notes, James is "laying out the full measure of life for those of us out there on the receiving end."