Thursday, 23 January 2014

Sharon Jones and The Dap Kings - Give The People What They Want

Originally scheduled to drop last August, the album was instead put on the shelf and the Brooklyn-based band's punishing touring schedule put on hiatus as Jones battled cancer. For a while, the music stopped, but with Jones's successful treatment and a return to the stage confirmed next month in New York, the new album is just the sort of triumphant return the doctor ordered.
The 11-piece Dap-Kings, ably anchored by bassist, bandleader and Daptone Records chief Bosco Mann, again showcase their brand of unbridled soul and funk that has spearheaded the revival of the 1960s and 70s genre, and which has seen them and Jones perform everywhere from the Sydney Opera House to Italy's Umbria Jazz Festival.
It's also a sound that has transcended the fringes thanks to some high-profile collaborations. Fans will know the Dap-Kings had a heavy hand in Amy Winehouse's critically acclaimed Back to Black album of 2006, including credits on hit singles Rehab and You Know I'm No Good. Other collaborations with Michael Buble and Mark Ronson, meanwhile, have put the respective talents of guitarists Binky Griptite and Tommy "TNT" Brenneck, trumpeter David Guy, and tenor and baritone saxophonists Neal Sugarman and Ian Hendrickson-Smith firmly in the spotlight. Jones, however, remains the seductive and supremely talented frontwoman, oozing soul whether she's sticking her middle finger up at a love spurned on You'll Be Lonely, or relaying tales of hope as she does on the laidback and feelgood We Get Along.
There's an impressive diversity in tempo, too. While first single, Retreat!, is an up-tempo stomper and a thundering start to the album, it's a world away from the mellow Making Up and Breaking Up (And Making Up and Breaking Up Over Again), which lets the by now ubiquitous horns really shine. Stranger to My Happiness, meanwhile, is a playful number that sees Jones sing over a low-flung sax lick and chanting backing vocals that add a sharpness to her melodic command.
If there's anything to lament with Give the People What They Want, it's the album's length. Clocking in at about 34 minutes, the adventure is over all too soon. Given the challenges surrounding the album's release, though, it's a small and insignificant gripe.
The musician-owned and analog-proud Daptone Records continues to demonstrate that some of the best sounding soul and funk music doesn't require the latest digital equipment, and with labelmates such as Jones and the Dap-Kings on hand and now healthy, the future looks bright.


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