A few songs on Sharon Jones & the Dap-Kings’ latest album, I Learned the Hard Way, sound so old-school R&B, they distract from the great singer and band playing them. The group’s 2007 breakthrough, 100 Days, 100 Nights, sounds like it was made in the late ’60s too, but things come together a bit more effortlessly on that record. You can hear the machine grinding away on I Learned the Hard Way, as Jones and band (the great Brooklyn combo that gave Amy Winehouse’s Back to Black its distinctive flavor) work through a dozen mostly original songs. Let’s hope this quasi-gimmick doesn’t become a crutch, since Jones and the Dap-Kings are one of the tightest, if not totally original, groups making music these days. They’re performing a free show at the Rock Hall at 8 tonight. You need a ticket, but the venue has been giving them away via various promotions over the past month. You can still snag one. Check out the Rock Hall’s website for details. —Michael Gallucci
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