Sunday, July 4, 2010

Sharon Jones & The Dap-Kings- I learned the hard way

Sharon Jones and The Dap-Kings
“I Learned The Hard Way”
Daptone - B00377E4SC
Review by Georgetown Fats

The 2007 release of ‘100 Days, 100 Nghts’, also on the Daptone label, may have put Sharon Jones & The Dap-Kings on the radar of both critics and fans alike, “I Learned The Hard Way” has all of the markings of putting Sharon Jones & The Dap-Kings in the history books.

On the 2010 release, ‘I Learned The Hard Way’ Sharon Jones, the former Riker’s Island corrections officer, is back the 8 piece Dap-Kings band. Recorded entirely at the band owned House of Soul studio, Jones and The Dap-Kings prove the value of taking razor blades to Ampeg 8-track reel to reel tape over Auto-Tune and other digital manipulations and trickery.

On the opening track, “The Game Gets Old”, Jones evokes the spirits and aura of Stax and Motown with a vocal delivery as powerful as Irma Thomas. Sure the theme of the foils of love may be the basis for most soul music, but with the right vocalist, Ms. Jones, and proper arrangement more than make-up for an overdone theme.

Dave Guy, Dap-King trumpeter contributes another track titled “Give It Back”. Once again the listener is treated to another song about unrequited love. Dap-King bassist & producer Gabriel Roth, under the moniker of Bosco Mann, manages to orchestrate and arrange tracks from all 8 members of The Dap-Kings with vocal tracks of both Ms. Jones and backing vocalists without ever allowing solos or lead lines to interfere with the groove of the song.

Having given up a chance to make $500 a night with a successful wedding band to make $75 a night in the early days with The Dap-Kings, Sharon Jones convincingly delivers every line of the Bosco Mann penned “Money”. Rather than another hang-wringing tune about not having enough money, Mann’s “Money” is one part anger and one part swagger for the all-mighty dollar.

On the goose-bump educing “She Aint a Child No More”, once again penned by Bosco Mann, Jones sings a girl who grows up quick and hardened to due to being a product of abuse. Unfortunately the pathos of the track is entirely too convincing. Mann and Jones both manage a catharsis with this track, they may not be products of abuse themselves, however they both have tapped into the raw emotion of witnessing the ravages of child abuse.

Sharon Jones & The Dap-Kings are not a retro act, but an act basking in a timeless sound. Having toured extensively and bringing contemporary audiences back to the funk and soul sounds of the 60’s and 70’s, expect the awards and accolades for “I Learned the Hard Way” and Sharon Jones & The Dap-Kings throughout 2010 and beyond.

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