Considering the group’s recent ascent to the national spotlight, the third album by Brooklyn’s Sharon Jones & the Dap-Kings is a surprisingly relaxed and modest effort. Jones, the singer and principle star, after getting an already late start in the music industry at age of forty, is finally receiving a modicum of recognition: She joined Lou Reed for his revival tour of his seminal record, Berlin, and she broke into television and film after appearing in local New York City tourism ads and in Denzel Washington’s upcoming The Great Debaters. Her nine-piece backing band has also received its share of attention through its partnership with producer Mark Ronson, who employed the Dap-Kings for half of Amy Winehouse’s breakout Back to Black album (which led to their assignment as her touring band), as well as through his “sampling” of them for a variety of hit records by Lily Allen and Bob Dylan. The airtight musicianship of the collective makes the attention long-awaited and well-deserved. But the group appears nonchalant about the hype. Instead, the musicians have crafted a lucid soul record (barely longer than a half hour) centered on humility, devotion, and other mature sentiments that are blissfully out-of-sync with pop/youth-centric music.
Like the group’s reflective 2005 record, Naturally, Jones and company go their own way and continue the trip down soul’s memory lane on 100 Days, 100 Nights. The group strolls from bluesy breakdowns on the title track to the grumpy funk of “Nobody’s Baby” and on over to the mid-’60s Motown pop of “Tell Me” — all within the first ten minutes. Though these tracks recall the familiar la-la-la-I-love-you sentiments of yesteryear, the record also paints pictures of patient lovers and selfless gazes. “Be Easy” advises young lovers to strut, don’t run, and por favor, calmese. Meanwhile, “Humble Me” pays respect to the dirty work every great family member and lover has to do on occasion (hopefully not too often). Though there is already a rich legacy of such soul-stirring music, Jones and the Dap-Kings use 100 Days, 100 Nights as a refreshing reminder. Such a respectful tone plays over well with one of the few been-there-but-still-lovin’-it groups of today.