Sharon Jones & the Dap-Kings

Declaring yourself "the world's mightiest live funk and soul revue," as the Dap-Kings have done, bears all the cultural import of being anointed "the world's fastest horse-drawn carriage." But the critics and radio programmers who employ the simple refrain of "don't look back" are missing out on a lot of great music. The recently released Naturally perfectly captures the gritty, analog swing of classic J.B. funk and the pop-minded soul of vintage Motown. With a smoky voice and a flair for phrasing that recalls Aretha Franklin in her prime, Sharon Jones is a perfect foil for the Dap-Kings' slow-cooked funk. Over the swelling strings and defusing horns of "All Over Again," she achieves a sublime swoon unmatched since the Supremes climbed their mountains, and she projects a Queen Bee authority over the throttling funk of "My Man Is a Mean Man." The Dap-Kings earn their title by providing a rhythm section that's as tight as a midget's closet. Sure, it's all musical comfort food and nostalgia as novelty, but it's also intimate, insanely infectious and immediately satisfying.
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Sam Chennault