It’s tempting to say Sharon Jones & the Dap Kings’ 100 Days, 100 Nights is among the absolute finest contemporary R&B records of the past few years, but there’s truly nothing about the album that’s contemporary. Especially now that the neo-soul movement has all but died out thanks to its core artists’ refusal to record new material, there’s no one on the current R&B landscape who sounds like Jones; not even the likes of Erykah Badu, Maxwell, D’Angelo, or Lauryn Hill are as much of a throwback. On her third album for the Daptone label after years of dues-paying in obscurity, Jones and her extraordinary backing band (who have also recently played with Amy Winehouse and Mark Ronson) continue to produce a brand of vintage R&B and funk that sounds like it was pulled from the Stax vaults. While the unwavering retro conceit made for some flawlessly executed funk on her previous two albums, Dap-Dappin’ and Naturally both had entirely too much filler. 100, though, is an impressively lean album. If there’s nothing as revelatory as Naturally’s cover of “This Land Is Your Land,” there’s also not a weak song on the record. From the sultry lead single and title track to the fiery “When the Other Foot Drops, Uncle” and gospel rave-up “Answer Me,” Jones is never less than a powerhouse, and the Dap Kings, with their deep basslines and perfectly staccatoed brass, match her infectious energy every step of the way. And if Sharon Jones & the Dap Kings are somehow out-of-step with modern trends in R&B music, 100 Days, 100 Nights still speaks to the soul and the depth of the genre’s past.
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