Sunday, January 28, 2018

Sharon Jones and the Dap Kings - Soul of a Woman

This is, sadly, Sharon Jones final album, released a year after her untimely death from cancer. She was one of the leaders of the new modern soul movement and one of its finest performers. Her amazing voice is powerful and emotional and the Dap Kings are an incredible backing unit.

Right out of the gate, everyone shows that they are ready to put everything they have into this album. Sharon had been sick and no one really knew what the future held, so they seem to be pulling out all of the stops.

There is a perfect, upbeat, smokin' groove in the opener "Matter of Time", with the entire band working together to build the dynamics and lock in tight while Sharon belts'n'croons above it all, interacting with her fine backing singers. She continues in excellent form in "Sail On!", with the musicians providing an upbeat dance number. They let up a bit for the sultry ballad "Just Give Me Your Time" (that has superb, punchy horns), and give some mid-tempo soul in "Come and Be a Winner", salvage what could have been a so-so dance number in "Rumors" with fine melodies and vocal interactions, and give another passionate soul ballad with "Pass Me By".

I love the way they can recreate the feel of 70's soul while still retaining their own identity, like in "Searching For a New Day" or the slow'n'spirited "These Tears" and "When I Saw Your Face". There's a great build-up with horns and echo'd guitar and outstanding ensemble playing on "Girl!" and appropriate finale for this Christian woman facing her end in the gospel/soul of "Call on God".

I haven't heard anything I didn't dig from this combo - fantastic players all around and Sharon had a goosebump-inducing voice. As good as it gets!