Soul-torch Shouter Revives 1970 to the Letter—Subpar Filler and All


The Dap-Tone house band’s second album backing up soul shouter Sharon Jones is a rare-groove album, circa 1970, in all but recording date (that would be 2004): songwriting, vocal style, snare sound, slightly off-key strings and all.

The model is the haphazard LPs by women like Marva Whitney and Lyn Collins, who sang with the James Brown revue. Even Naturally‘s half-assed filler is historically accurate half-assed filler—only “Stranded in Your Love,” an Otis-and-Carla-style duet with Lee Fields, cracks a smile about its genre conventions. Also, the whole thing sounds great on tinny little speakers.

This is an album of what’s supposed to be singles music, though, and it’s got two songs that would be prized 45s if they’d come out 35 years ago and somehow missed the charts. “How Long Do I Have to Wait for You?” could be Ann Peebles shimmying on the head of a pin: a Gordian knot of a breakbeat, a fluttery guitar line, and Jones torching a melody that hits all of her voice’s sweet spots. And the slow-grind, minor-key “This Land Is Your Land”—including the verses about private property and government relief—feels so necessary it’s amazing somebody didn’t think of it during the Nixon administration.

Sharon Jones & the Dap-Kings play Southpaw April 8 and 9.