Sharon Jones and the Dap-Kings, I Learned the Hard Way (Bonus Version)
Some things are simply timeless
"I'm a better woman than I have been/ Because I don't think about way back when," Sharon Jones sings at the top of "Better Things," one of the more laidback cuts on her fourth album with the Dap-Kings. Well, sure: The band behind her takes care of that. The Dap-Kings were founded as a monument to both James Brown hardness and Tina Turner/Aretha Franklin vocal forthrightness. But each album has been more velvety than the last, and on I Learned the Hard Way they work in strings ("Give It Back") and vibraphone (the instrumental "The Reason") without a hitch, and slow the tempo down throughout without losing any funk power. But while the aural clock is dead set on 1970 or so (and if Fleet Foxes can evoke CSNY crossed with Pet Sounds, why not?), the band still sounds like they're progressing: Jones still belts plenty, but tunes like "Window Shopping" demand more restraint, and she delivers. Besides, some things are simply timeless. "Money — where have you gone to?" Jones sings on one chorus. "Money — where are you hiding?" Who says these guys aren't living in 2010?