Sharon Jones and the Dap Kings - Soul Time!

Sharon Jones and the Dap Kings
Sharon Jones & the Dap-Kings Soul Time!.jpg
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Sharon Jones is used to toying with James Brown grooves, but Soul Time! – the fifth LP from the Daptone superstar – does the full monty on Brown’s legacy (“Are you ready for Star Time?”). Since Jones and her mighty army of brass construction stormed into the spotlight with their classic soul revivalism, every album since Dap Dippin’ has been unglued from their ‘60’s/’70’s old-school pattern. As for Soul Time!, the album cranks up the J.B. horn power, the profuse funk and the raw nostalgia spawning from Bosco Mann’s production.

Sharon Jones is used to toying with James Brown grooves, but Soul Time! – the fifth LP from the Daptone superstar – does the full monty on Brown’s legacy (“Are you ready for Star Time?”). Since Jones and her mighty army of brass construction stormed into the spotlight with their classic soul revivalism, every album since Dap Dippin’ has been unglued from their ‘60’s/’70’s old-school pattern. As for Soul Time!, the album cranks up the J.B. horn power, the profuse funk and the raw nostalgia spawning from Bosco Mann’s production.

As with previous projects, Soul Time! invites artistic comparisons to the greats they seek to emulate. Brown’s influence is heavily enforced on the two-part “Genuine,” which struts like a slowed down version of “I Got the Feelin’.”  On “I’m Not Gonna Cry,” Jones transforms into a Lyn Collins sound-alike. “When I Come Home” sounds like a descendant of “There Was a Day,” even as Jones exercises clever interaction with the sassy horn arrangements using Otis Redding tricks: I’m gonna (horn blasts) when I get home.”

After a steady stream of relationship fare, the set takes a little time getting to more pressing matters. Atop a sweaty Sly Stone groove, Jones lays down a Gil Scott-Heron commentary on “What If We All Stop Paying Taxes” (“How can we talk about the price of gas when they’re stealing our brothers and sisters’ rights to live”). Luckily, Jones douses the funky set in a needful marinade to help cool down the fires, which includes a dose of smooth Betty Wright-esque ballads (“Longer and Stronger”) and Amy Winehouse blues (“Without a Trace”).

As Soul Time! marches its way to the end, the wick continues to burn as the Motown-styled “New Shoes” and a cover of Shuggie Otis’ “Inspiration Information” dons an afterglow that is rarely seen on the back-end of albums.

The cost of unleashing Soul Time!, what some will rightfully label a last-minute compilation of previously-released rarities and b-sides, may hurt repeat customers. Some of the tracks are quite familiar with those that trace every move and every 45 rpm single at Daptone, such as the engaging 2010 single, “Ain’t No Chimneys in the Projects,” which paints a more rigid and realistic picture than Brown’s “Santa Claus Go Straight to the Ghetto” (“Genuine” and “I’m Not Gonna Cry” were also previously released). But, after a thorough investigation from a bird’s eye view, the album feels more congealed than 100 Days, 100 Nights and more refreshing than I Learned the Hard Way, making this their finest collection of music to-date. Recommended.

By J. Matthew Cobb

 

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