Hearts and Soul on a Platter

Just as many of you can recall where you were and what you were doing during the fall of the Berlin Wall or Obama’s presidential inauguration, I can recall exactly what I was doing the first time I heard Sharon Jones & the Dap Kings.

It was the summer of 2002, likely about 7:30 a.m. or so, and I was driving to work. I was probably groggy and disoriented and driving well under the speed limit (this being pre-coffee). I recall the sun was bright that morning, and just as I was coming over the top of the West Seattle Bridge, with the dazzling Emerald City of Seattle to my left, and breath-taking Mt. Rainier to my right, an unfamiliar song chock-full of funk, fervor and heart came on the radio and instantly jerked me out of my morning haze.

I remember listening intently, trying to place the ’70s soul artist: Betty Davis? Mavis Staples? Laura Lee? No, there was a different quality to this sassy soul singer and her band. I would learn later that this fabulous funky song “What Have You Done For Me Lately?” was, in fact, by a new group: Sharon Jones & the Dap Kings.

Eight years later, it is with great pleasure that I can say that Sharon Jones & the Dap Kings have again delivered their hearts and souls on a platter for our listening pleasure.

Sharon is backed by an entourage of finger-wagging backing vocalists, swirling organs, chugging guitars, groovy basses, funky drums and a set of horns whose sporadic, unified blasts express both lament and indignation.

The songs tell us stories of infidelity, growing up fast and financial woes – yet while the tales are tough, the underlying tone of the album is one of empowerment, to pick yourself up and “move on.”

I Learned the Hard Way is the fourth album from Sharon Jones & the Dap Kings, and in my mind, easily their best. I couldn’t be more proud to tell you that we’re featuring this CD in stores on April 6, and I highly recommend you let this amazing album be the soundtrack to your spring.

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