Big thanks to Jeff Elbel for turning me on to the Dap-Kings. These guys play old-time soul music so accurately, their albums could have come right from the 1960s. Top that off with the sweet and sultry voice of Sharon Jones, and you have a recipe for awesome.
I Learned the Hard Way is just another great Dap-Kings album. Thick horn sections, sugary strings, vintage-sounding production (particularly on the drums), melodies to die for. These 12 songs could all be covers of standards - I wouldn't be surprised to hear "The Game Gets Old" slotted into any oldies station on the planet. But they're new compositions, crafted with the greatest of respect to their influences. At times, this album's a little slower than previous Dap-Kings efforts, but that just lets Jones show off her pipes a little more, and that can never be a bad thing. And even when she's not on board, like on instrumental track "The Reason," the Dap-Kings play with remarkable soul.
In short, this album is a loving recreation of a sound long gone, played by masters of the form. Listen here. Then buy. This is wonderful stuff.