Sunday, March 28, 2010

Sharon Jones & the Dap-Kings - I Learned the Hard Way

Sharon Jones makes music the way it’s supposed to be made, with an eight-track tape machine and a voice that fills the gaping holes in your stomach with a fullness that leaves no room for fluff. The thick, soulful yearning that oozes from her vocal chords is only further enhanced by a backing band that plays horns with saucy, polished verve. While the Rock Hall celebrates the beginnings of Philly soul, Jones is busy creating a second movement. The band’s fourth album, I Learned the Hard Way, kicks off with “The Game Gets Old,” a smooth number that chugs along with all the charms found in old Stax records – a grand, sweeping introduction, brassy flourishes, and the casual sway of rhythm. We’re reminded of the past but also forced back into the present with “Money,” where Jones squeals and screams, “I’m hungry and tired, but my money’s all spent/money, where have you gone to?” The Dap-Kings are best when fired up; attitude explodes from “She Ain’t a Child No More” and the title track. I Learned the Hard Way is not a throwback, but a modern re-thinking of old soul.

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