Over the last decade or so, soul music has seen an incredible resurgence in popularity among audiophiles as contemporary labels and acts across the country have taken up the sound – perhaps as revisionist/reactionary response to music that many feel is prepacked, soulless pabulum. Off the top of my head, I can think of Brooklyn’s Daptone Records, home of the fantastic Sharon Jones and the Dap Kings; Nashville’s G.E.D Soul Records, home of my favorites, Derobert and the Half Truths, the Sky Hi Funk Band, and others; Chicago’s the Right Now and J.C. Brooks and the Uptown Sound; Boston’s Jesse Dee; Alabama’s Ralph “Soul” Jackson; and a very long list of others.
But, of course in the recent pantheon of soul, I have to discuss “the screaming eagle of soul” Charles Bradley. Bradley, much like his peers Sharon Jones and Ralph “Soul” Jackson has a profoundly interesting life story – the sort of life story that would be perfect for a biopic: Bradley has spent a portion of his life homeless, and he’s toiled in obscurity in a number of ill-fitting, soul crushing jobs, including being a James Brown impersonator, when Daptones Records Gabriel Roth discovered him. In some way, James Brown is in fact, a fair comparison – vocally, they kind of sound alike. But Bradley is an earnest, emotional whirlwind of the likes of Otis Redding and Jackie Wilson. The heartbreak and pain Bradley howls, and croons about is as visceral as your own heartbreak. And if you don’t feel it, you have a cold, cold heart.
Check out “Strictly Reserved For You,"off his soon-to-be released album, Victim of Love. Once you watch the video, I think you’ll agree – Charles Bradley is the fucking man.
You can catch Bradley on tour to support the new album, and it’ll include a stop at the Apollo Theater on May 16th.