I recently had the pleasure of listening to Sharon Jones & The Dap-Kings‘ latest album in its entirety (I Learned the Hard Way, released in April of this year) after listening to and loving a few of the tracks a few months ago, and I’ve got to say that it’s probably one of the better albums I’ve listened to all year.

For those, like me, who grew up with the sounds of Motown (courtesy of my Dad’s 6-disc Best of Motown box set), the album has a remarkably familiar, even comforting vibe.  Despite being created recently, all of the tracks feature Motown-like staples such as strong, passionate, soulful female vocals, a cadre of back-up singers, and flourishing brass sections, but most importantly, they create a feeling that they are somehow from a simpler, more organic time in music.  This last point is a somewhat iconic characteristic of Sharon Jones & The Dap-Kings, for the simple reason that they ARE more organic.  The band makes a point of using traditional analogue recording equipment and limits itself to instruments that would have been available in the mid-70’s, and that simple principle permeates throughout all of their work.

The result is an immensely enjoyable, very accessible album that should appeal to music lovers of all genres and generations.

[mp3] Sharon Jones & The Dap-Kings – I Learned the Hard Way
[mp3] Sharon Jones & The Dap-Kings – Give It Back