Give The People What The Want already sounds like a timeless album. This isn’t that surprising, considering what Sharon Jones And The Dap-Kings have given us before: 2010’s I Learned The Hard Way revived big band scuffle churned up with jazzy slinkiness, and with it came a new appreciation for the kinds of nouveau vintage sounds Jones and the Kings were near-effortlessly churning out. And while I Learned The Hard Way was layered, sometimes anguished and always complex, Give The People What That Want carries a confident subtlety and uncalculated breeziness that makes it easy to fully immerse yourself in it.
The album’s opening track is called Retreat!, though it actually sounds more like “full steam ahead.” The trumpets blare, the tenor sax parades in the background and Jones cannon-balls right into her raw, never faltering croon. It’s worth mentioning that the singer was diagnosed with bile-duct cancer last summer, which delayed the Give The People What They Want release date, but I don’t think that’s what people will remember about this album. Although it’s difficult not to imagine a newfound strength in Jones’s voice—like she knows a misstep is a statistical impossibility—the LP still stands on its own as a pressing piece of music.
The Dap-Kings prove once again to be an almost mind-bogglingly crisp backing band, with tickingly taught percussion, sticky bass lines and sweat-inducing brass. But it’s Jones, of course, who holds together every song with her now-classic vox. Album stand-out Now I See showcases a slightly angrier, proudly determined side of Jones. Her vocals move, almost visibly, from subdued NPR host to a down-but-never-out lounge singer. Stranger To My Happiness is equally bold, charging and pulsing with each bass lick and trumpet blare.
Making Up And Breaking Up is a lightly shimmering track with cascading vocal harmonies; We Get Along brings Jones’s effortless tenor to the forefront of a mangled soul symphony. And although the people may get what they want, on People Don’t Get What They Deserve, Jones laments the empty promise that hard work always brings reward. But for Jones and the Dap-Kings, this album is proof that sometimes, just sometimes, that’s true too.