Review Summary: Sharon Jones and her fantastic backing band bring new energy to a worn down style of music.
The neo-soul and nu-jazz trend in music that emerged in the late 90’s and overflowed into a prosperous boom in the new millennium has remarkably become a staple of popular music. There are of course the untouchable pioneers of their respective fields such as Amy Winehouse or Adele, and the second wave incomers that don’t quite hit the mark (though are not far off) such as the Duffy’s or Laura Mvula’s.
You will notice now that the four artists previously mentioned are all notably from the Euro-side of the pond, but what of the States? Where do they fit in this musical revival? Jazz and soul both are American-exports, this is true, but strictly pop music speaking, there has not been as many notable artists of these nu-genre’s coming out of America.
That is of course with one exception.
The lovely Sharon Jones and the Dap Kings came onto the music scene in 2002 with their debut album “Dap-Dippin’ With…” While the album itself gained some attention, the band didn’t mange to have a true break through till more recent releases. The album though, while it made little noise publically, is quite a storm of an album. While the likes of soul singers like Adele favor lush twinkling melodies and crisp soundscapes to surround her voice, which is held front and center, Sharon Jones and her backing band take soul to it’s most brash, high energy form.
Using the opening track as a jumping off point the album is a nonstop banger, not once slowing to catch it’s breath. “Got A Thing On My Mind” is one of the most energetic soul songs to be released in recent memory. Utilizing quick paced phrasing and bouncing horns, the song properly sets the tone for an album that doesn’t much let off. “Give Me A Chance” is the best showcase of The Dap King’s fantastic musicianship, giving the guitar and bass players a chance to shine and throw down some fantastic licks.
Also quite noticeable about the album is the obvious lack of polish all the songs have. “Make It Good To Me,” sounds straight out of the glory days of Motown. The band has been noteworthy in outright dismissing modern recording equipment in favor of methods from souls heyday in the 1970’s, thus giving the entire album a powerful organic quality that only adds to it’s appeal.
The album also thankfully clocks in at a reasonably short amount of time, any longer and it would feasibly start to over stay its welcome. Songs have a tendency to play and sound more like a forty-five minute long jam session rather than a consciously planned album, while this is not at all a bad thing, in fact it is part of what makes it so great, it can grow tiresome fast. The lyrics are repetitive, but true to much of jazz, are not central to the music at all. The real star here is the vocal powerhouse that is Miss Jones and her incredible backing band, giving a nice breath of fresh air into a well-worn style of music.