Charles Bradley
No Time For Dreaming



by lancebramsay USER (21 Reviews)
March 5th, 2011 | 22 replies

Release Date: 2011 | Tracklist

Review Summary: In a world so cruel, Charles Bradley still has soul.

Charles Bradley is a man. Born in 1948, he soon moved to Brooklyn, New York and it was there he spent most of his childhood living on the streets. In 1962 Bradley witnessed an event that would forever shape his life: he saw James Brown live at The Apollo. It was from this point on he knew exactly what he was destined to do. With this inspiration he would leave the streets of Brooklyn and make a name for himself. Over the next several decades, he found himself traveling across the country; from Maine to Alaska and eventually to California. He worked as a chef during his days, picking up gigs when he could. It wasn’t until he was about to make a down payment on his first house that he was laid-off from his job of 17 years. At this point he was forced to reflect on where his priorities were. Ultimately he decided to move back east to be with his family in Brooklyn.

Home again in Brooklyn, he began to make appearances in local clubs. He performed his James Brown routines under the alter ego “Black Velvet”. Finally, at the age of 51, he was doing what he truly wanted to do. Yet, as soon as things were finally going his way, tragedy struck. Bradley was greeted with the devastating news that his brother had been shot and killed. Life became bleak once again. He turned to his only outlet, the microphone. While singing his heart out at the Tarheel Lounge in Bedstuy, Gabriel Roth of Daptone Records was listening. Roth recognized his god-given talent and invited him to the record family. Once he was a part of the family, he was introduced to guitarist and songwriter Thomas Brenneck. They struck a chord and became friends. Bradley confided his life story in Brenneck; it was from there that they crafted an album with the hopes that it captured the essence of Charles Bradley.

To look at “No Time For Dreaming” and call it an album is simply an understatement. In reality, it is a testament for the life and times of Mr. Charles Bradley. Some credit should be given to Thomas Brenneck because without his devotion to the sounds of soul, this album could have been so much less. Every melodic chord, every offbeat funky riff, every horn, every piano note are meticulously crafted. You couldn’t ask for a soundtrack more suiting to back the story of Charles Bradley. Every single sound fits the mood. From the slow twirling horns and mellow guitar in “Lovin You, Baby” to the gospel backup vocals and busy bass lines in “No Time For Dreaming”, the aura is pure, unedited soul-funk. Ultimately it isn’t the instrumentals that make this album great though, it’s the voice of Charles Bradley.

Bradley's voice, it’s bluesy and gritty yet soulful and funky. And he’s got that scream, oh that scream; a yell which is much like that of James Brown. He is a man that has been through some hard times. He spent his whole life trying to make it and he spills it all out in the track “Why is it So Hard"”. As he sings the chorus “Why is it so hard to make it in America"” his voice wails, as if he is on the verge of breaking down. He reveals his softer side on the track “Lovin You, Baby” when he tenderly proclaims “When your kissing me baby, oooh, it feels so real”. Every soothing note he sings just warms each beat of your heart. All his trials and tribulations erupt together on the last track “Heartaches and Pain”. Life is hard, and we feel it in his voice, yet the track feels oddly optimistic about it all.

Soul is a music that is rooted deep within. Sure, there is the superficial explanation of what soul is; it simply being the combination of gospel with rhythm and blues. But to leave it at that does the genre no justice, it is so much more. Really soul is a way to express all those feelings bottled within. A musical representation of everything that made you who you are; all the experiences, good and bad, that define you. You project all the happiness, pain and regret of your life into your voice. The microphone becomes your only friend as you spill everything you have into it. As a listener, these sound waves carrying the voice, the soul of the singer, reverberate within us. Good soul music is truly a profound experience, something that can shape the way we feel; music that can make us feel the way the singer does.

“No Time For Dreaming” is Charles Bradley; every part of him is fused in the album. A man, all the experiences that molded who he is today, put into song. His voice represents his life and the instruments are the environment that surrounds him. You hear all the pain and joy; you feel everything that he does. His voice pierces right through you, evoking emotions at your very core. “No Time For Dreaming” is manifestation of Charles Bradley’s heart and soul, a sight which couldn’t be more beautiful.

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user ratings (49)

Comments:Add a Comment 
March 5th 2011


Album Rating: 4.5 | Sound Off

The single "The World (Is Going Up In Flames)"

If Sputnik doesn't dig this I have lost all faith.

March 5th 2011


This album is pretty damn enjoyable. Plus the guy's background story is truly incredible.

March 5th 2011


Album Rating: 4.5 | Sound Off

Any feedback on my review is appreciated. I know, I know, it's kinda long. I just felt that in order to understand the album, you needed to understand who Charles Bradley is.

@FourSquare20 His background is quite incredible. It really translates into his voice for sure.

March 5th 2011


Excellent review!

March 5th 2011


Read the review. While it is a little on the lengthy side, I think that including the backstory of this guy's life is pretty necessary to really experience the album.

March 5th 2011


second sentence should be a colon instead of a semi-colon (anal, I know but I just noticed it). I think the background is important as well, but you need to integrate in the review more, instead of telling us the background of his life and then talking about the album (that's not the purpose of a critical review), but it's still a decent read.

March 5th 2011


Album Rating: 2.5

fairly generic affair

March 5th 2011


Album Rating: 4.5 | Sound Off

@thebhoy A staffer giving me tips! Very nice, I shall make some adjustments when I get the chance. I understand what you are saying, I need to elaborate more on the album rather than the artist. It's just so hard to separate the man from the music. Kind of like reviewing an album such as Kanye's "My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy", you can't help but talk about Kanye's life when reviewing it. I've started doing these reviews as a hobby, to better my writing skills as well as be an active participant in the arts. So I definitely appreciate constructive criticism.

@DoubtGin YOU'RE a fairly generic affair :/

March 5th 2011


thought it said CHARLES BARKLEY for a second lol

March 5th 2011


This review is damn close to just awe-inspiring. I've never heard the album before, but from the sounds of it, the backstory is necessary, but I also agree with everybody else, that when it comes down to it, you talked more about the backstory than you did the album. I would rework it so it integrates somehow or at least shorten it.
Also this sentence right here

"Now about Bradley’s voice, just wow. It’s bluesy and gritty yet soulful and funky."

Probably would work better like this

"Bradley's voice is blues and gritty yet soulful...etc."

that's just nitpicking though

But this review is absolutley fantastic, easily the best I've read from you and loads better than anything I've written on here. So definitley an exuberant POS.

March 6th 2011


Album Rating: 4.5 | Sound Off

You guys like to nitpick but you failed to notice that I actually talk about the album more than I do his background (More words according to microsoft word) :P I get the point though, the excessive look into the man's history distracts the reader from the actual album. I'm making the necessary corrections.

Let me know what you think about the new modifications. I basically scratched the second paragraph, I added the essential part of it into the first paragraph. I also moved the third paragraph down to the fifth.

August 5th 2011


Album Rating: 4.5 | Sound Off

still a fantastic album

August 6th 2011


Album Rating: 3.5

It's like Motown is back

September 7th 2011


I've only heard the first track, but I'm just not a big fan.

October 28th 2011


Holy crap, this is good!

November 5th 2011


Album Rating: 4.5 | Sound Off

Holy crap, this is good!


December 20th 2011


Album Rating: 4.5

album is tight. i love me some soul.

January 15th 2012


Album Rating: 4.0

Yeah. The album rules. I slightly prefer Raphael Saadiq's latest release to this, but this is still top-notch soul. The man has a great voice.

Digging: Rina Sawayama - RINA

January 17th 2012


Watching him perform some of these songs on KEXP on Youtube is jaw-dropping. Amazing voice.

April 9th 2013


Album Rating: 4.5


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