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What Have You Done, My Brother?
     

What Have You Done, My Brother?

by Naomi Shelton
 

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Daptone Records, arguably the epicenter of the 2000s funk/soul resurgence, has launched records by retro-styled revivalists (the Budos Band, the Mighty Imperials), reissues of vintage-era obscurities (Bob & Gene), and even reissues of revivalists (the Daktaris,

Overview

Daptone Records, arguably the epicenter of the 2000s funk/soul resurgence, has launched records by retro-styled revivalists (the Budos Band, the Mighty Imperials), reissues of vintage-era obscurities (Bob & Gene), and even reissues of revivalists (the Daktaris, the Poets of Rhythm), but for a long time the label lacked another act that could compare with its flagship star, Sharon Jones, a bona-fide throwback soul artist with roots in the music's heyday who's still very much musically active today. Enter Naomi Shelton, a commanding and full-throated vocalist whose musical identity stems equally from her churchgoing rural Alabama childhood in the '40s and '50s and her tenure on the New York club scene in the '60s and beyond. Like Jones, hers is an undeniable, inimitable voice, a rich and gritty alto brimming with authority and hard-earned authenticity, but also an unmistakable sense of compassion, grounded by a forthright, soberly pragmatic sensibility. What Have You Done, My Brother?, the first full-length Shelton has cut in her long and varied career, is a gospel record, to be sure -- from the reedy organ notes that open the proceedings to the inspiring lyrical message of uplift and righteous struggle, bolstered by the sturdy and stirring backing harmonies of the Gospel Queens -- but it's a soul record, too, just as obviously, and one that bears many of the hallmarks of Jones' Daptone sides. Along with a number of traditional and classic gospel numbers, most familiarly Sam Cooke's timeless "A Change Is Gonna Come" (which sounds as affecting as ever, and more personally informed than usual, in Shelton's relatively unadorned take), she's blessed here with a handful of top-notch original tunes by Daptone ringleader Bosco Mann (aka Gabriel Roth) which, true to form, are practically impossible to distinguish from the older songs -- although the socially conscious, mock-deferential "Am I Asking Too Much?," which is rather atypically sardonic, does feel particularly like one of Jones' groovy struts. Roth also serves as producer and plays bass, alongside fellow Dap-Kings Tommy Brenneck and Homer Steinweiss, while Jones herself is one of several supplemental background vocalists, in addition to the Queens (two of whom take turns on lead vocals.) Suffice it to say, fans of Jones and/or the label won't be too surprised, and certainly shouldn't be disappointed, by what they hear here, even those who wouldn't typically be inclined to listen to a gospel record. And, thanks perhaps to the understated influence of the band's arranger and musical director Cliff Driver, or to Shelton's unaffected sincerity, or simply to the directness, optimism, and relevance of the music's spiritual message, this set is blissfully free of the occasionally over-earnest schtickiness that can sometimes creep into Daptone's more retro-minded output: this is real, and this is righteous.

Product Details

Release Date:
05/26/2009
Label:
Daptone
UPC:
0823134001626
catalogNumber:
16
Rank:
116519

Related Subjects

Tracks

Album Credits

Performance Credits

Naomi Shelton   Primary Artist
Jim Hall   Organ
Judy Bennett   Background Vocals
Cliff Driver & The Drivers   Piano,Musical Direction
Sharon Jones   Background Vocals
Bosco Mann   Bass Guitar
Homer Steinweiss   Drums
Tamika Jones   Background Vocals
Brian Floody   Drums
Cynthia Langston   Lead,Group Member

Technical Credits

Cliff Driver & The Drivers   Arranger
Traditional   Composer
Gabriel Roth   Engineer,Liner Notes
Sugarman   Executive Producer
Ed Vidarres   Cover Design

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