Sharon Jones And The Dap-Kings – 'Give the People What They Want' album review

Having beaten cancer, soul diva Jones regroups her band for a triumphant album of revivalist gold

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Time Out Ratings :

<strong>Rating: </strong>4/5


Deliberately retro music isn’t the easiest thing to review. When there’s no use in hunting for experimental sounds or subversive themes, you need a new kind of critical yardstick. So it is with Sharon Jones And The Dap-Kings, a gang of soul revivalists whose mission is to create great new songs with the old-school sounds of ’60s Memphis, Detroit and Chicago. Now on their sixth album, the Dap-Kings are doing a stellar job of proving not only that there’s still a popular appetite for soul, but also that they can do a damn fine job of sating it.
 
When it comes to the new crop of soul revivalists – Jones and co, Charles Bradley, Alice Russell and others – the main question is always whether their post-millennial offerings hold a candle to the genre’s originals. It’s a question that’s intimidating in its simplicity, but with each of the Dap-Kings’ albums, the answer has increasingly been a resounding ‘yes’. The secret of creating valuable revivalist tunes, it seems, is simply to make sure that they are really, really good – and on that basis Sharon Jones And The Dap-Kings have cracked it.

On their latest album, ‘Give the People What They Want’ the band (and their backing vocalists The Dapettes) play a deft and ego-free musical backdrop, allowing the singer’s voice to take centre-stage. The result is a collection of snappy little songs (the majority are little over three minutes long) that imbue the world with a warm glow and a fighting spirit.

That’s partly because it’s hard to detach ‘Give the People What They Want’ from the circumstances in which it was born. Jones was diagnosed with cancer this year, postponing the album’s release date indefinitely – and then she achieved an almost miraculously quick and comprehensive recovery. The sense of triumph is palpable as she belts out the album’s opener, ‘Retreat!’: ‘What a fool you are to be taking me on!’. Elsewhere Sharon is just as ready to square up to opposition, as on the relentless funk-fest that is ‘People Don’t Get What They Deserve’ or the genuinely timeless ‘Get Up and Get Out’.
 
Jones and the band are now ready to bring their LP to the world, with Bosco Mann, the album’s producer, commenting, ‘That moment when Sharon walks out to join us on stage again is going to be insane.’ Soul fans and newcomers alike will be lining up to be a part of that live experience once this air-punch of an album has graced their ears.


Buy this album here

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Listen to 'Give the People What They Want' on Spotify


Watch the video for 'Retreat!'

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