Sharon Jones and the Dap-Kings: Naturally
Sharon Jones and the Dap-Kings are a tribute band. But what they lovingly pay homage to isn’t a single act, but a bygone era of funk and soul. The group echoes sounds from legends such as James Brown and the Contours, but each composition is an original—freshly recorded with an aura seemingly plucked from dusty 45s.
The New York-based act’s sophomore set is another exercise in how to properly roll retro. The tunes bounce like a tiny rubber superball and Jones’ husky, pungent vocals pierce every note. When Jones compliments her beau for “taking care of business” on “Natural Born Lover,” her palpable energy over pumping horns and catchy guitar strums from the JBs-like Dap-Kings is contagious. It’s mystifying how Jones, who’s approaching 50, only recently found notoriety that’s decades late.
For authenticity’s sake, the disc includes slight echoes and lots of quickie guitar licks reminiscent of early Motown. The collection even features a convincing lover’s clash between Jones and classic ’70s soulster Lee Fields. “I thought you left me,” Jones declares in a throaty rasp in “Stranded in Your Love.” “What you doin’ back here?”
There’s plenty of parallels to timeless tracks, most notably Aretha Franklin’s. Both Jones and Franklin were bred on gospel in houses of worship and Jones’ “You’re Gonna Get It” glides along just like Franklin’s “Do Right Woman, Do Right Man.” At 10 tunes and just over 40 minutes long, Naturally is a compact soul treasure. Welcome to the time warp.