Album: Give the People What They Want
Artist: Sharon Jones and The Dap-Kings
Details: 11 songs; 38 minutes
Who’s Choice: Gone Mild
Dan’s choice this week was Sharon Jones’ Give the People What they Want. The Dap Kings – which is an awesome name for a band – back her up and lend a infectious spirit to this album from the first measure. This one was uncharted territory for me, and, during a difficult week, I appreciated this album’s spirit.
Before getting this, I had one song of Sharon Jones’ in my ITunes library. It is from 2007. Since then, she has put out almost an album a year. I just don’t listen to much R&B, so I have missed out on the energy riot that comes from these musicians and this style of music in general. Dan writes about this eloquently over on Gone Mild. I think he really nails it.
I did know about Sharon Jones’ recent cancer diagnosis. I didn’t know that it came in 2013 – right before this album was supposed to be released. When that happened, they made the decision to wait almost a year, while she went through intense treatment and emerged healthy. The album released in January. It seems to be getting roundly praised and may ramp up the deserved love for this band.
Give the People What they Want starts with a anthem-like number called Retreat. This is as good of a fight back theme song that one could wish for. I can imagine her singing this to nasty cancer cells. The video that goes along with this cut is an animated film with flying pigs, creepy packs of wolves, and a size-shifting, finger-wagging Sharon. At the :52 time point in this song she does a chord shift that I love. I expect that there is a name for that kind of change. It wins me, whatever it is.
While Retreat feels very Aretha Franklin – this is not a one note album. Now I See makes me think of Dusty Springfield. We Get Along – Stevie Wonder. To a song, her voice is smooth and full of whatever emotion it is that she is singing about. She is as good at sounding angry as she is at sounding regretful or cautioning.
Her use of background singers is pretty great. Listening to this album, I can picture great dresses, great moves; ladies singing into big, stand up mikes. (And their name is the Dapettes!) My favorite back-up song is “People Don’t Get What They Deserve” which has some line/response going on that is so fun.
Line: And cheaters will fail that’s what they all learn
Response: Cheaters never prosper
Line: There is a man who was born with a fortune/
A hard day’s work he’s never done
Response: Living on Easy street
I bet her live shows are awesome.
This album is 34 minutes of good time testimonial, warning, and survival songs all backed up by rocking horns. Just that baritone sax line to Stranger to My Happiness was enough to win me as a fan.
Up Next: Slave Ambient by War on Drugs