CHARLES BRADLEY plays the Phoenix on May 11. Rating: NNNN
Veteran soul shouter Charles Bradley didn’t release his debut album (2011’s No Time For Dreaming) until he was 62, and the late bloomer seems intent on making up for lost time. He’s not interested in reinventing the wheel, but if you were impressed by his previous efforts you’ll enjoy Victim Of Love even more. The mood is familiar, but the grooves are earthier and warmer. Whereas his debut was steeped in the pain of a long, hard life, this new album is more about love and heartache.
His gritty take on classic R&B sounds gels exceptionally well with the vision Daptone’s Tom Brenneck (best known for his work with the Menahan Street Band), who gives the singer the perfect backing for his gravelly crooning. It might be tempting to dismiss this approach as retro, but given that Bradley never had a chance to express his vision till recently, it’s unfair to expect him to suddenly modernize now. He does, however, explore some unexpectedly psychedelic terrain here, which he handles impressively.
Top track: Confusion