If you’ve been frequenting this site over the course of its seven year history, you’ve likely come across a number of posts on Daptone Records recording artists Sharon Jones and the Dap Kings and Charles Bradley — both who I think were among some of the finest soul artists around. Now, as you may recall, Sharon Jones died after a three year battle with pancreatic cancer, and Charles Bradley died late last month after a two year battle with stomach cancer. Sadly and unsurprisingly, people die; it’s what people do, but there are some people, who seem larger than life and utterly incapable of dying — and somehow I always wanted to believe that Sharon Jones and Charles Bradley could never die. Shit, considering the abysmal state of the world, we could use a few more Sharon Joneses and Charles Bradleys to spread joy and love to countless others around globe.
As it turns out, Jones and her Dap Kings spent the better part of her last few months writing and recording what would be the band’s final studio album Soul of a Woman, which is slated to be posthumously released on November 17, 2017 through Daptone Records. Recorded on eight-track tape at Daptone Records’ Bushwick, Brooklyn-based House of Soul Studios, the album finds the band and their beloved leader pushing the limits of their songwriting and sound to create what some have said may arguably be some for he band’s rawest and most sophisticated material to date.
Soul of a Woman’s first single “Matter of Time” is a lush and moody mediation on the nature of time that strikes me as being equally inspired by Ecclesiastes and The Byrds’ legendary cover of Pete Seeger’s “Turn, Turn, Turn,” as it seems to suggest that with everything there’s a purpose and a season, and that there will be a time for peace and understanding, but along with that, it brings up the idea that life, the pursuit of peace, justice, true freedom and fairness are the result of necessary struggle. Perhaps because we now know that Jones died within a few short months of finishing the recording sessions, the song manages to possess the profoundly sad wisdom of the dying — that ultimately, most things in our lives are fleeting and impermanent. And in an age of superficiality, of dotards, madmen and fools, of hate and division, of growing strife and unease, of seemingly impending nuclear annihilation, we could use love and wisdom.
The recently released video filmed and edited by Jeff Broadway and Cory Bailey captures Sharon, her Dap-Kings and Charles Bradley both performing and behind the scenes while touring Europe, and naturally it captures Daptone Records beloved duo in the very fullness of their lives while revealing why those who knew them and loved their music feel their losses so very deeply.