Sharon Jones & The Dap-Kings – Soul of a Woman (2017)

Sharon Jones & The Dap-Kings - Soul of a Woman (2017)
Artist: Sharon Jones & The Dap-Kings
Album: Soul of a Woman
Genre: Soul, Funk, R&B
Origin: USA
Released: 2017
Quality: mp3, 320 kbps
Tracklist:
Matter of Time (03:22)
Sail On! (03:00)
Just Give Me Your Time (02:30)
Come and Be a Winner (02:57)
Rumors (02:34)
Pass Me By (03:20)
Searching for a New Day (03:15)
These Tears (No Longer for You) (03:36)
When I Saw Your Face (03:24)
Girl! (You Got to Forgive Him) (04:09)
Call on God (03:38)

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When Sharon Jones passed away last November after a long battle with pancreatic cancer, she died not as a soul revival artist but as a soul artist, period. The distinction is subtle but meaningful. What sounded in the 2000s like a throwback to the era of 1960s and 1970s funk and R&B eventually became something very modern and of its moment. The Dap-Kings may be one of the best backing bands around, and Daptone Records a more diversified and adventurous label than many people think, but it was Jones who rooted the music in the here and now instead of the there and then. A lot is made of her experience as a corrections officer and armored truck guard, but she worked in wedding bands and did session work for decades before she recorded her first single, at 40 years old, and her first full-length album, at 46. She conveyed an unshakable belief that soul music could speak to this or any other moment in time, and her voice, so insistent and expressive, could transform a song like Janet Jackson’s “What Have You Done for Me Lately”—or even Woody Guthrie’s “This Land Is Your Land”—into something new and timely.

Remarkably, that voice sounds barely diminished on Soul of a Woman, retaining every ounce of its personality and authority despite how cancer and chemo had sapped her energy, if not her drive. When Jones felt strong enough, she went into the studio and made music with the Dap-Kings. Otherwise, she was either resting or touring. In fact, she didn’t stop playing live until just a few weeks before her death. “I can’t wait too much longer,” she sings on opener “Matter of Time,” which dreams of peace, freedom, and unity. From any other singer, such a statement might speak to the long arc of justice, but in this case Jones sings from the position of knowing she might not live long enough to enjoy the fruits of that struggle. (In fact, she suffered a stroke on election night, which left her hospitalized, unable to speak but still able to sing.)

Yet Soul of a Woman is not an album about facing down death. There’s nothing grim or fearful or despairing in her performances. Rather, most of these songs are lively, even celebratory, as she sings about the age-old subjects of soul music: politics both public and romantic, the state of the world and the state of a relationship. The barnburner “Sail On!” turns the tables on a dismissive lover, the Dap-Kings’ horns blasting around her as Jones works out the moral equation of her situation. “Rumors,” with its effervescent groove and party vibe, wags a soul finger at the gossip mill: “Rumors tell me that you’re no good, baby!”
by Stephen M. Deusner

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