Sharon Jones & The Dap-Kings “Better Things”

Currently being given an early preview streaming over at NPR, Sharon Jones & The Dap-Kings‘ fourth album I Learned The Hard Way (due, officially, April 6th on Daptone) unsurprisingly lands as another bravura demonstration of the electrifying front-woman and her nine-piece backing male accompaniment’s killer way with horn-spiked, retro-fueled soul that sounds like it’s supposed to be coming from an old, rusty jukebox in some Quentin Tarantino flick.

Highlights include the timely, “broke folks” lament “Money” (sample lyric: “I got to pay my bills/ I got to pay my rent/ I’m hungry and I’m tired but my money’s all spent/ Money, where have you gone to?”) and the lean backporch jamming, girl-group harmonies and pleading pipes that ignite the album-closing “Mama Don’t Like My Man”, but tops for us would have to be “Better Things”, a feelgood slab of wobbly soul-funk in which Sharon revels in walking away from a cheating partner.

The jovial handclaps and various horn blurts of the arrangement seem to signify the clicking of Jones’ heels as she heads out the door and down the road, giddily bopping with pride over her relationship-ending decision. “I got a new life and I’m feeling right on,” she beams infectiously, provoking the listener to reward her with a well-deserved standing ovation at song’s end, not only in honor of her strength, but as appreciation for her and her band’s continued excellence in bringing that old school groove back.

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