Review Summary: What a strong female role model should look like.
For those aware of the debilitating effects that both chemotherapy and age can have on an individual, the strength of Sharon Jones’ voice will most likely come as a bit of surprise. Indeed, the soul singer’s performance on Give the People What They Want
, her fifth album performing with backing band The Dap-Kings and first released after her successful battle with bile duct cancer, offers no apparent evidence of her recent struggle. Jones’ voice is a beacon of strength and passion that, with the aid of The Dap-Kings, leads Give the People What They Want
to be an impressively enjoyable soul/funk record.
The best support for this claim is the lack of a stand-out track; both Jones and The Dap-Kings are constantly at their best. The brass is brash, the bass is full and the guitar always knows the right tone, with all of them knowing when it’s the right time to be sexy and the right time to be tender. And of course, Jones soars over the top, interchanging swagger and sultriness without ever wavering with her commanding, husky tone. From the grooving attitude of “Stranger to My Happiness” to the slow-jamming sleekness of album closer “Slow Down, Love,” there’s a moment for every mood.
The only element that holds the album back is the lyrical content and its repetitive nature. All of the subject matter on Give the People What They Want
is predictable, which, while neither surprising nor all that egregious, becomes slightly disappointing due to the strength of the album’s other parts. The following line from “Making Up and Breaking Up (And Making Up and Breaking Up)” is a somewhat noteworthy misstep, as…
“Our love’s like Humpty Dumpty up on the wall/And just like Humpty Dumpty, it had a great fall/But all this hugging, and all this kissing/Can’t put back together the love we’re missing”
…feels too cliché and goofy to fully enjoy the metaphor. The title of the aforementioned song is a key example of the other critique of lyrical repetition. Several of the choruses have either Jones or her back-up singers repeating the same phrase more times than is necessary, and some patience levels may struggle with this upon repeat listens.
Hopefully this won’t be too much of a hindrance however, as Give the People What They Want
is a truly great album. Sharon Jones and Dap-Kings
’ joyful mood is infectious and fun throughout every track on the record, and if for no other reason, the album should receive credit as a testament to Jones’ resilience.