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Soul revival is flying high, and current unlikely poster boy Charles Bradley is enjoying lots of the spotlight right now.
Actually, though, Bradley started out opening for 50-something Georgia native Sharon Jones, who like Bradley found success late-ish in life.
On her fifth album, Jones continues her reign as the feel-good, funky diva du jour. Stranger To My Happiness comes alive with deep brass beats and female backup vocals straight outta 60s Motown. Most numbers hinge on classic soul themes of tempestuous love and 20/20 hindsight, exemplified by the succinct, dead-on Making Up And Breaking Up (And Making Up And Breaking Up Over Again).
Throughout, the Dap-Kings remain essential to the throwback sound, amplifying the genre's staple brass section with congas and timpani. Still, the singer's star quality is the most powerful element. Her raw, raspy voice suggests a life tough-lived, and part of Jones's appeal is her no-nonsense realness. The album is missing an emotional, drawn-out, heartbreaking ballad, but inspirational anthems like Retreat! find her sassing as loud and proud as ever.
Top track: Retreat!