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Sharon Jones & The Dapkings have been funking it up since their debut album, "Dip Dapping With..." in 2002 and if you only listen to one 70s funk/soul revival band this is the one as they've been the leading advocates of old school new funk for near on ten years now.
Sharon Jones is a dimunitive little lady with a fiery voice - she's a former prison guard therefore at five foot nothing she had to have a BIG voice to keep those inmates in check! The Dap Kings are formed out of the ashes of a number of bands from the now defunct Desco Label, they've toured as Amy Winehouses backing band on American tours and there's absolutely nothing 'defunked' about their playing.
On this, their fourth album, the style is slightly more mellow and laid back than their previous offerings, most notably their first album which was fired up 100mph raw funk... they've mellowed a little bit since then and the album showcases Miss Jones' ability to sing as well as any of the funk divas from back in the day.
Notable tracks for me are
1. The Game Gets Old
The album starts with a mid tempo track in which Sharon Jones sings of her experiences in the game of love, the opening horn blast sets you up for what's to come in the album and the backing vocals are drenched in 60s soul style.
2. I Learned The Hard Way
Track two is the title track is a little more funky with a bouncy track playing behind Sharon as she sings of how she trusted her man and is ultimately played for a fool, smelling perfume on her fellas clothes, finding hotel keys and answering calls from random women on his mobile! As far as title tracks go, this is a solid if unspectacular effort.
3. Better Things
My favourite track on the whole album... again, quite a bouncy opening to the track with some hand clapping (you've got to love the hand clapping!), piano and horns playing out before Sharon enters the fray to tell us she's not going to dwell on her failed relationship, the sun is shining, she's in good spirits and she's moving on... right on sister!
6. The Reason
This is an instrumental track but as with all instrumental tracks by this band, it's absolutely fantastic and will hold special interest to those who have seen the tour as it's absolutely amazing played live.
7. Window Shopping
There's something a little bit Al Green about the music on this track whilst Sharon sings about her man looking at other women, whilst ultimately letting a good woman pass through his fingers. Again, there is quite a laidback, stripped feeling to the track with the horn section playing a more subtle part, complimenting the vocals perfectly.
8. She Ain't A Child No More
Sharon Jones & The Dap Kings don't just sing about love and lost love, they can touch upon serious subjects as well... this song is about a father getting drunk, coming home and hitting his child, how that child's grown up and won't accept the beating anymore. The track stays true to the style of the album and is very skilfully tackled.
I very strongly recommend this album, and if you like it I recommend getting to see a live gig if you can, the album format doesn't really do justice to the ensemble and the energy they bring on to a stage takes it to a whole new level. Plus, if you're lucky enough (or unlucky enough) you'll be dragged on stage and sung to like I was!
Disc #1 Tracklisting
1 Game Gets Old, The
2 I Learned The Hard Way
3 Better Things
4 Give It Back
6 Reason, The
7 Window Shopping
8 She Ain't A Child No More
9 I'll Still Be True
10 Without A Heart
11 If You Call
12 Mama Don't Like My Man