Give The People What They Want by Sharon Jones & The Dap-Kings (Album)
Sharon Jones makes a triumphant return after beating cancer, with her illness having done nothing to diminish her vocal power
owever hard you try, it’s kind of hard to be objective about an album like Give The People What They Want. After all, with Ms Jones having been diagnosed with pancreatic cancer last year, there was a very real chance that there might not be a fifth Dap-Kings album at all. But after surgery and extensive chemotherapy, the good news is she’s back in the game – and sounding as good as, if not better than, ever.
As this is the fifth Dap-Kings album, you should have an idea what to expect by now: raw, hi-octane soul looking heavily to the 60s for inspiration is the general order of the day. Compared to previous albums, particularly 2006’s Dip-Dappin’, there’s perhaps a little less dirty Hammond funk, a few more Phil Spector-ish harmonised choruses, but if you’ve enjoyed any of the previous Dap-Kings long-players then you’re unlikely to struggle too much to enjoy this one.
Perhaps surprisingly, there are no obvious lyrical references to Ms Jones’ recent tribulations. Instead, affairs of the heart inform most of the songs, though there is one overtly political song in the form of northern soul stomper People Don’t Get What They Deserve, which makes the simple point that people’s circumstances aren’t always of their own making. Making Up And Breaking Up is another highlight, a torchy heartache ballad worthy of Dusty herself, while the funk that’s largely absent elsewhere on the album makes a welcome reappearance on You’ll Be Lonely, in which a wronged woman reclaims her independence and informs her man that he’ll be lonely when she’s gone.
From Riker’s Island prison officer to international soul music star, 57-year-old Ms Jones has come a long way. And what Give The People… so pleasingly affirms, is that the ride isn’t over yet.
Verdict: A very welcome comeback, and one that stands up musically as well
Below, you can watch the video for Stranger To My Happiness, taken from the album