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Sharon Jones & the Dap-Kings

Sharon Jones (photo by Jacob Blickenstaff, PR)

Sharon Jones (photo by Jacob Blickenstaff, PR)

by

Sharon Jones and the Dap-Kings
Soul of a Woman
Daptone Records

It's hard to believe that a year has gone by since the incredible Sharon Jones passed away, following a long, courageous and hard-fought battle against pancreatic cancer. She was vibrant, determined and defiant as she faced her illness — the very qualities that defined her music and her soul as a performer for so many years.

In her final months, Jones and her remarkable band, the Dap-Kings, were recording new music. Those sessions have resulted in the final studio album from the band, called Soul of a Woman. Released on November 17, the day before the first anniversary of her death, the album is a fitting testament to a wonderful woman with remarkable talent.

Although she was very ill while recording Soul of a Woman, the album reflects Jones' zeal for life. The first half of the album moves effortlessly from the lively and uplifting “Matter Of Time” to the slow burn of “Just Give Me Your Time.” There’s feisty funk that drives the horn-drenched “Sail On!” and sunshine-kissed positivity on the groovy “Come And Be A Winner.”

The second half is more contemplative, highlighted by the elegant soul ballad, “Pass Me By.” Songs like “Searching For A New Day,” “These Tears (No Longer For You),” and “When I Saw Your Face” are sweet, retro-Seventies soul reveries that would have sounded just right coming from an AM transistor radio on a summer's day long ago.

But the moment most likely to pull on the heartstrings is the gospel-tinged ballad “Call On God.” It’s a passionate prayer of hope that ends with a gentle laugh from Jones. It’s a touching and reassuring moment that offers a sense of warmth and love. Jones will always be in her fans' hearts and ears. Soul Of A Woman is drenched in the trademark old-school vibe that the Daptone team does so well.

To say that Soul of a Woman is Sharon Jones and the Dap-Kings’ finest hour might seem bittersweet, considering the difficult circumstances that Jones and the band faced as it was conceived and created. But it's hard not to regard this lovely album as one of the group's crowning achievements. Soul Of A Woman is a celebration; a tribute not only to Jones' greatness as an entertainer, but as a human being. Through her music and joy, she enriched so many lives and will always be loved and remembered.

Rest in peace,  Miss Sharon Jones, and thank you for sharing your heart and soul with us.