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CD Review: Sharon Jones & the Dap-Kings

I Learned the Hard Way (Daptone)


Sharon Jones makes music the way it's supposed to be made: with an eight-track and a voice that fills the holes in your stomach with a fullness that leaves no room for fluff. A backing band that plays horns with saucy, polished verve only enhances the thick, soulful yearning that oozes from her. The band's fourth album, I Learned the Hard Way, kicks off with "The Game Gets Old," a smooth number that chugs along with all the charm of an old Stax record — a sweeping introduction, brassy flourishes and the casual sway of rhythm. We're reminded of the past but also forced back into the present in "Money," where Jones squeals and screams, "I'm hungry and tired, but my money's all spent/Money, where have you gone to?" The Dap-Kings are best when fired up. Attitude explodes from "She Ain't a Child No More" and the title track. I Learned the Hard Way isn't a throwback but a modern rethinking of old soul. — Danielle Sills

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