Friday, September 16, 2005
Mercy...mercy...mercy...'05 is proving to be a good year for sweet soul music (I'm still playing Shemekia Copeland's The Soul Truth all the time) and this record adds to that goodness. Sharon Jones and the Dap-Kings are an ace young rockin' R&B big band (complete with a sassy horn section) fronted by a wonderful old school soul singer...they cook up fat, funky grooves the way it used be done back in the day ("the day" in this case being the heyday of soul music from the 60's and early 70's) without becoming a navel-gazing nostalgia act.
Jones can sing rings around most of the would-be divas on the radio these days and she doesn't have to showboat to prove it. Her warm, earthy voice is equally at home on rockin' numbers as on bluesy, yearning slow jams and she never needs to waste notes on pointless runs and trills.
This disc grabs you with the propulsive opening cut..."How Do I Let a Good Man Down?"...and holds on until the closing blues ballad, "All Over Again". There's a clever duet with Lee Fields (another under-appreciated soul singer) with the playful "Stranded in Your Love" (including a bit of introductory dialogue between the singers like off some classic Stax records LP) and just a bit of naughtiness with the slyly-randy "Fish in my Dish".
"Your Thing is a Drag" is pure James Brown funk and indeed it's too funky for Sunday morning (but it's just right for Saturday night :-)
The disc is, as most great soul records are, mostly about matters of the heart but Jones and the Kings throw a stunning curve ball with a stunning, soulful version of Woody Guthrie's classic "This Land is Your Land".
This is the second album by the band whom, I will be honest, I hadn't heard of until I saw a preview of an upcoming show of theirs in my local paper. Thank goodness for my subscription to Rhapsody which is opening my eyes to a lot of great music I would otherwise miss.
Sharon Jones and the Dap-Kings won't get even a fraction of Mariah Carey's airplay...but man, the radio would be a much more wondrous companion if they did.