Song of the Day: Sharon Jones and The Dap-Kings – I Found Out The Hard Way

photo by Christopher Nelson

photo by Christopher Nelson (view more)

Every Monday through Friday, we deliver a different song as part of our Song of the Day podcast subscription. This podcast features exclusive KEXP in-studio performances, unreleased songs and recordings from independent artists that our DJs think you should hear. Each and every Friday, we deliver songs by local artists. Today’s selection, featured on the Afternoon Show with Kevin Cole, is the title track from Sharon Jones and The Dap-Kings‘ 2010 album, I Found Out The Hard Way, on Daptone Records.

Sharon Jones and The Dap-Kings – I Found Out The Hard Way (MP3)

Was it just me or did all of Seattle grease the Record Store Day rails with that physiologically confusing (but beautiful) morning cocktail of mimosa’s and coffee? I know at least four of us did and by golly, what a wonderful day of record store hopping it turned out to be. Teaming with the best kind of people, all bouncing from letter to letter and stack to stack, last Saturday, my favorite stores were packed to the gills with intoxicated music junkies in search of their next fix. One of my scores came in the form of Live at KEXP Volume Four on Double LP. Yeah, yeah -– should’ve already had this blahbitty blah blah blah. What can I say? I was holding out for the late wax score (if you don’t already have it: highly recommended, four stars, amazing, epic, ahead of its time, stellar). Now several years old, this collection of live gems reintroduced me to the soulful sound of Brooklyn based revivalists Sharon Jones and The Dap-Kings. Jones and what would later become the Dap-Kings first came together in the early nineties when the singer recorded a backing vocal track with the Soul Providers. The band liked what they heard so much that they recorded a track featuring her on lead vocal (“Switchblade”). When the Soul Providers eventually split and reformed as The Dap-Kings, Sharon Jones and her powerful pipes found their way to the front of the stage.

In the years following their first, 2002 release, Dap Dippin’ with Sharon Jones and the Dap-Kings, the band has received mountains of critical acclaim, landing on several compilations and side projects (last year’s Dark Was the Night, KEXP, Baby Loves Jazz, The Great Debaters, Up In the Air) and contributed to the studio work of many fellow artists (Amy Winehouse, Wax Tailor, and my Mom’s fave, Michael Buble). The continued success of Jones and The Dap-Kings can be attributed to the band’s dedication to the pure sound of soul. One listen to Jones’s pleading vocal will hot-tub-time-machine your ass straight back to the 70’s. The strength and honesty in her voice stands shoulder to shoulder with folks like James Brown, Tina Turner, Diana Ross and Stevie Wonder. Produced by Dap-King Bosco Mann and recorded on an Ampex eight-track tape machine by Gabriel Roth in Daptone Records’ House of Soul studios, I Found Out The Hard Way continues to harness a sound that just simply doesn’t exist in today’s musical spectrum. Perfectly balanced horns fill out the album’s title track with the understated precision of a well-oiled machine. The Dap Kings provide a robust backdrop for Jones’s emotional recount of love gone sideways with suspicion and lies. Smooth. Real. Raw.

My recommendation in two easy steps:

1. Acquire brightly colored sequin cape.
2. Dance your ass off.

And you’ll get your chance to do just that soon! Sharon Jones and the Dap-Kings are just about to begin a two month tour of the U.S. that will eventually land them at the Showbox SODO on June 21. You can find more dates across the country on her MySpace page. But right now, you have to check out Sharon with the Dap-Kings performing “I’m Not Gonna Cry” live at SXSW for the NPR Showcase at Stubb’s:

If you like that, there’s more here and here.

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