Sharon Jones & the Dap-Kings – Give the People What They Want

Anyone who’s ever witnessed firsthand the sonic dynamo that is Sharon Jones & the Dap-Kings knows what an inspiring, exhilarating experience the show can be, from the pint-sized, clarion-lunged Jones’ strutting, swaggering and moneymaker-shaking to her backing band’s effortless conjuring of vintage revues from the ’60s and ’70s. This ain’t no neo-soul, man; it’s solid gold soul, straight up and down.

Give the People What They Want comes on the heels of Jones’ cancer diagnosis and subsequent round of treatments earlier this year (which served to delay the release of the album), and it proves cathartic. From the Holland/Dozier/Holland-isms of opening cut “Retreat!” and the stiletto-heeled, girl-group vibe of “We Get Along” to the sinewy, swampy “Long Time, Wrong Time” and the torch-song jazz of “Slow Down Love,” there’s nary a moment missed to demonstrate that Jones is one of the greatest female vocalist currently operating. Don’t infer, however, that the Dap-Kings are content to fade into the background while she’s out front (or, in the case of the recordings, upfront in the mix). These guys are casual virtuosos who can shift gears on a dime, blending the laid-back aesthetic of the Muscle Shoals crew with the high-velocity outrageousness of classic J.B.’s – check the steaming funk of “You’ll Be Lonely” for proof.

In the final estimation, though, the group susses that when you make the singer look good, the entire ensemble looks good. Granted, an album by SJ&TDK only gives you a partial picture; the live show is where it’s really at. But Give the People… still makes for one helluva teaser.

Sharon Jones & the Dap-Kings
Give the People What They Want