Sharon Jones and the Dap-Kings: “I Learned the Hard Way”

The adage “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” has been invoked by enough music critics to qualify it as a genuine critical cliché, though exactly how it’s meant to be understood remains somewhat ambiguous. Sometimes it’s a badge of honor stuck to an artist’s lapel, as if to suggest that their music is so seamless, why would anyone meddle with it? Sometimes — perhaps even simultaneously — it’s a pejorative, an indication of nothing so much as out and out stubbornness.

I think it’s fair to employ both meanings with regard to the glorious throwback soul of Sharon Jones — though God knows she, above all people, has earned the right to be a little stubborn. Jones’ sound is one that hasn’t been particularly fashionable in nigh on 40 years, and she herself has been working on bringing it back into vogue for several decades, only finding the recognition she deserves in recent years, particularly with the volatile chemistry found between Jones, her Daptone label home, and her mighty Dap Kings horn troupe; their breakthrough was 2007’s 100 Days, 100 Nights, and now comes I Learned the Hard Way, a well-earned victory lap.

Read the rest at Stereo Subversion.

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