Sharon Jones & The Dap-Kings, I Learned the Hard Way [Daptone]

Every once in a while a must-have disc just slips by us.
By Bryan Beller ,

Every once in a while a must-have disc just slips by us. Earlier this year, the band that became famous for backing Amy Winehouse—featuring the singer who reportedly inspired her to sing— put out this disc of original ’60s- and ’70s-style soul/R&B, and if you care at all about what happened back in Motown, Stax, or Muscle Shoals, it’s essential. Bassist Bosco Mann (a.k.a. Gabriel Roth) is also the producer, so he gets the credit for the amazingly accurate throwback sonic production. As a player he evokes the simpler end of the vintage soul spectrum— more David Hood and Duck Dunn than James Jamerson—and he puts the bass ever-so-slightly back in the mix, just as they did in the day. Meanwhile, Sharon Jones wails like a hybrid of Tina Turner, Ann Peebles, and Mavis Staples; the lush arrangements are slathered with strings, horns, backing vocals, and percussion; and the groove in tunes like “Money” and “Better Things” is fierce enough to make you jump off the couch and kick the coffee table over to make room for dancing, even if you’re alone. As for how we missed it, better late than never.