Sharon Jones and the Dap-Kings: I Learned the Hard Way
Give It Back
From I Learned the Hard Way (Daptone, 2010)

If you know anything about me or this site, you know I’m inclined to like Sharon Jones and the Dap-Kings for various reasons. That’s why I find it hard to properly articulate the kinds of superlatives to lay upon their new album without sounding like I’m predictably buttering their bread but trust me on this:

This is the best album they’ve ever put out. By far. I went in with fairly high expectations and this crushed ’em. I’m mind-blown.

I’m trying to review the album for NPR so I don’t want to do a total brain spill right here but the short story is that this album has such a diverse set of styles on it and almost all of it is executed to perfection, including great dips into blues and gospel (we need more of this from them!) I don’t have the formal liners in front of me so I don’t know how produced and arranged all the songs but whoever you are, kudos. Incredible accomplishment. I included their first single and then one of my other favorite songs (of which I had an embarrassment of riches to choose from).

Anyways, just cop this when it drops and be prepared to enjoy one of the best albums you’ll hear this year.

Speaking of which, can I just show Erykah Badu’s brand new album some love?

Erykah Badu: Turn Me Away (Get Munny)
Fall In Love (Your Funeral)
From New Amerykah Part 2 (Return of the Anhk) (Motown, 2010)

I’m totally showing my age here by picking these two songs in particular…after all, both have roots in a very distinctly ’90s hip-hop sound but hell, this entire album feels like a throwback to ’97 in some ways. And look, how the hell am I not going to be into Badu referencing’s Biggie’s “Warning” on a track that flips up Eddie Kendricks’ “Intimate Friends”? Or hear her remake Sylvia Striplin’s “You Can’t Turn Me Away“? Instant heavy rotation. (Oh, and the rest of the album is pretty damn good too).