Artist of the Week – Sharon Jones & The Dap Kings

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Sharon Jones knows all there is to know about personal struggle. At the wise age of 57, she is just now getting the recognition she deserves as a talented soul singer. The Georgia native spent the majority of her singing career as a relatively unsuccessful studio vocalist, and was forced to work as a corrections officer at New York’s Rikers Island in order to pay the bills. In fact, it was not until 1996, in her 40th year, that Jones’ big break occurred after being discovered backing legendary R&B artists Lee Field’s. Since then, Jones, alongside her band the Dap-Kings, has emerged as a soul-singing powerhouse. With five albums under their belt, and a recently successful battle with cancer, Sharon Jones and the Dap-Kings encapsulate the raw emotion created by such personal struggles on their new album Give The People What They Want (January 14th – Daptone Records).

Sharon Jones ‘Gives The People What They Want’ on New LP

Possessing many of the definitive qualities of 1960’s Motown artists like Diana Ross and the Supremes, or The Temptations, Sharon Jones and the Dap-Kings bring funk back to the forefront with their new LP. Jones’ wholehearted wails are supported throughout the album by the funky guitar licks and morbidly obese bass lines of the Dap-Kings. No song demonstrates this better than the albums opening track “Retreat!”

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An empowering funk-jam brimming with soul, “Retreat!” combines the powerful vocals of the late Amy Winehouse with instrumentation reminiscent of some of James Brown’s finest work. Jones cries, “Play with me and you’ll play with fire” and “I’ll chew you up and then I’ll spit you out,” ultimately warning unsuspecting men everywhere of her strength as an independent woman. A masterful horn section adds to the overall depth of the song, and demonstrates the flair and preeminence of the Dap-Kings as a band.

Throughout the rest of the album, songs such as “You’ll Be Lonely,” “Now I See,” and “Get Up and Get Out” continue to reflect on theemotions of a woman who refuses to be mistreated by the promiscuous nature of the male gender. Heavy drum tracks symbolize the power of Jones as a woman, while the constant sharpness of the horn section maintains the albums unmistakable aggression.

The overall dance-ability of the Dap-King’s music hits a new level on the albums eighth track “People Don’t Get What They Deserve”. Focusing on the inequality of the capitalistic society in which we live, the contentiousness of the song is masked by buoyant bass lines and sassy backing vocals; musical qualities that ultimately contribute to the irrefutable spunkiness of the entire album. “People Don’t Get What They Deserve” accurately captures the natural energy of Sharon Jones and the Dap-Kings, for which they have become notoriously known for in their live performances.

The indisputable confidence of Jones on Give The People What They Want is admirable to say the least, and comes at a time when she has overcome perhaps her hardest struggle (in June of 2013 it was announced that Jones had been diagnosed with cancer, a fate that would postpone the album and any talks of a live tour). Now, with things finally seeming to go her way, Sharon Jones can finally continue performing with the energy of a woman half her age. In doing so, she is taking her own advice, and giving the people exactly what they want.

Sharon Jones and the Dap-Kings will be embarking on a North American tour that starts February 6th at New York City’s Beacon Theatre. For more ticket information be sure to check out her Rukkus page.

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Article by Adam Lalama

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