Monday, April 12, 2010

Sharon Jones & The Dap-Kings - I Learned The Hard Way

Sharon Jones & The Dap-Kings
I Learned The Hard Way
Daptone Recording Co.

The R&B soul revival began in earnest over a decade ago with The Miseducation Of Lauryn Hill but as quickly as the former Fugee made this musical genre relevant again, she vanished from public consciousness. Thank goodness for Sharon Jones. Admittedly, I watched at least 40 minutes of a "Best Of Soul Train" infomercial last night but my interest in this music has been re-ignited. And I have Ms. Jones & The Dap-Kings to thank for that.

This music is so authentic that it's hard to believe that it is new. The rest of the Dap-Kings are very able musicians and, with Jones's voice and the production of Bosco Mann, they form a perfect union. I Learned The Hard Way is, in short, an album that is very easy to enjoy. There are fantastic grooves galore and no wasted time (unlike the Lauryn Hill album that suffered from the need to have skits, a hip-hop staple). The arrangements are rich without being cluttered. And the horns, oh how I usually loathe horns, mesh wonderfully. There is plenty of great R&B, soul, and Motown flavor to silence even the staunchest critics. It may not be the best but this is my most enjoyed album of the year so far.

Track Grades:
  1. The Game Gets Old - 8.5
  2. I Learned The Hard Way - 8.8
  3. Better Things - 8.2
  4. Give It Back - 7.8
  5. Money - 8.5
  6. The Reason - 7.5
  7. Window Shopping - 9.1
  8. She Ain't A Child No More - 7.7
  9. I'll Still Be True - 8.1
  10. Without A Heart - 8.4
  11. If You Call - 8.7
  12. Mama Don't Like My Man - 8.5
Overall Grade = 8.32

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