Review: Sharon Jones & The Dap-Kings, ‘Give The People What They Want’


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Sharon Jones & The Dap-Kings Definitely Give The People What They Want 

Sharon Jones & The Dap-Kings • Give The People What They Want • Daptone • US Release Date: January 14, 2014

Sharon-Jones-bc02If you were to ask an older generation of listeners, many would likely question the authenticity of R&B music in its current state.  The more youthful, liberal side of me enjoys modern R&B – indulges if you will – even if it sometimes supplants substance with sex, drugs, etc. That said, my more refined, old soul yearns for true, legit soul, recalling the forefathers and veterans of the genre.  With many of the veterans passed on or past their musical primes, the question becomes where does the ‘soul’ come from? The answer is from Daptone Records, specifically artists like Sharon Jones & The Dap-Kings.  With so many contemporary R&B artists claiming to be neo- and retro-soul artists, only a select few truly cut it preserving those vintage sounds and cues.  Sharon Jones & The Dap-Kings nail authentic soul music, with latest LP Give The People What They Want finding the collective flexing.  Give The People What They Want sounds like a classic.

Retreat” gets things off to a bombastic start, all initiating with a timpani roll (Jimi “Popcorn” Ashes) – who does that these days? Once Jones begins singing, it’s lights out for both the listener and the man who is the victim of her venomous bite.  “Retreat, retreat,” she sings, “Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned / Retreat, retreat / I’ll make you wish you were never born.” At least in the process of being shutdown by Jones, the man in the doghouse gets an authentic, soulful performance.  “Stranger to My Happiness” proves to be no slouch either, intact with a funky, head-nodding groove.  “Stranger to My Happiness” reaches its best towards the end, when Jones ‘lets her rip’.  The ‘churchy’ side of soul rears its inspired head, and ain’t nothing wrong with that!

After the quicker-paced soul of “Stranger to My Happiness”, “We Get Along” takes a more chill, mid-tempo approach.  The production is the epitome of cleanliness, with every aspect having its rightful place.  The overall pacing of this simple, organic cut is flawless, with horns appearing by the end of the second verse.   Even if it seems the sweat is minimal, the passion is not.  The background vocals by The Dapettes help incite Jones’ lead as they vamp “Get Up!”  “You’ll Be Lonely” seems to change pace from “We Get Along”, finding Jones putting the cold-hard truth on her man: “You’ll be lonely / after I’m gone.”  Among highlights of the ‘loneliness’ are Jones’ full-throated vocals and excellent trumpet soloing by Dave Guy.  By the way, “You’ll Be Lonely” has some big time guitar action – three guitarists to be exact.  Rock on – in a soulful sort of way that is!

Those Dap-Kings get some time to shine on “Now I See” as the intro is dramatic, setting the tone for the track as a whole.  Another consistent, enjoyable showing, “Now I Show” makes the most of some musical twists, turns, and an interesting harmonic scheme.  Having prominent baritone sax on the bottom of the arrangement doesn’t hurt either.   The relaxed “Making Up and Breaking Up (And Making Up And Breaking Up)” exemplifies the tried-and-true theme of the turbulent relationship that never quite ends.  As expected, Sharon Jones delivers like a champ, supported brilliantly by her backing band and backing vocalist.  By “Get Up And Get Out”, well, Jones is straight flexing – in the most classic, soulful manner that is.  The title says it all guys – she’s kicking you to the curb.  “Get up! Get Up! Get Up! Get On Out!”  Think of “Get Up And Get Out” like the ultimate shot-blocker in basketball – “Get that outta here!!!” By the time, even guys who object can’t help but feel like an “amen” is appropriate.

Long Time, Wrong Time” is funky, continuing to find Jones and the Dap-Kings at their best.  Jones shows vocal poise, never over singing, but delivering just the right amount of grit. “People Don’t Get What They Deserve” is an exceptional penultimate cut, up-tempo in pace and sporting electrifying vocals by Jones.  The Dapettes once more continue to impress behind Jones’ lead, carrying the refrain vocals while Jones compellingly ad-libs.  Once Jones is loose, there’s no reining her in – she’s on autopilot.  “Slow Down, Love” closes the tightly constructed Give The People What They Want slowly, lushly, and beautiful.  Even though the pace contrasts that of the rollicking penultimate number, “Slow Down, Love” still possesses an anchoring groove.  The horn orchestrations continue to impress (saxes and trumpet), specifically the recurring riffs throughout.  Vocally, Jones is as effective as a balladeer as she is a raw, soulful force.

Ultimately, Give The People What They Want is a fantastic album period. Brief at only 34 minutes and consistent from start to finish, there is truly little to criticize.  Sharon Jones sounds superb throughout, as do the Dap-Kings.  It’s not innovative, but the fact that Jones and company hearkens back to the classic sound, that is refreshing enough in itself.

Favorites:

“Retreat”; “We Get Along”; “You’ll Be Lonely”; “People Don’t Get What They Deserve”

Verdict: ★★★★

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