Recording information: Daptone Studios.
Anyone who has heard Sharon Jones knows why she's become the biggest breakout artist of the soul revival scene. Jones has a powerhouse voice and knows just what to do with it, and she's a compelling artist who understands soul music not as nostalgia, but as a living, breathing musical form that still has plenty to say in the 21st century. At the same time, Jones' success story is the triumph of an underdog, a woman who was called "too fat, too black, too short and too old" by a record company A&R man and yet gained an international audience while working with a small independent label. Jones' story sounded like the stuff of a Hollywood movie even before she had to face down cancer of the bile ducts and pancreas, and now her life has been brought to the screen in Miss Sharon Jones!, a documentary by Academy Award-winning filmmaker Barbara Kopple. Daptone Records has released a soundtrack album for Miss Sharon Jones!, and while it contains a powerful new track, "I'm Still Here," in which Jones sums up her eventful life in song, the rest of the material has been available on various albums and singles. The Miss Sharon Jones! soundtrack plays a bit like a "Best of Sharon Jones" album, and on that level it works very well, capturing not only her estimable skills as a vocalist but the Daptone crew's talents as producers and arrangers, helping Jones make music that's fresh and exciting while still conjuring sounds that will make vintage soul collectors stand and take notice. Serious Daptone fans may not need Miss Sharon Jones! beyond the new track (which is very good), but if you're looking for a solid introduction to Jones' music or a convenient overview of her career to date, this album does that and does it well, and shows why she's made it into the big leagues against the odds. ~ Mark Deming