Sharon Jones never thought she would be around to see the release of her Grammy-nominated 2014 album, Give the People What They Want. You can see it in her eyes, hear it in her quivering voice as she confesses as much to her bandmates the Dap-Kings in Miss Sharon Jones!, the 2016 documentary that followed her derailed career as she battled pancreatic cancer. Jones did see the album’s release and its subsequent success. A dynamic performer, she soldiered on while she was in remission, until the cancer returned in ’15, eventually taking her life last year at age 60. Now Jones’ seventh and final album, Soul of a Woman, recorded partially while she was undergoing treatment, arrives on Nov. 17.
Jones’ music has always been rooted in the classic soul and funk of the ’60s, with her powerful voice echoing Aretha, Otis, James and Gladys. She effortlessly mixed joy, heartache and spunk–and Soul of a Woman is no different. The album’s opener, “Matter of Time,” finds her looking at the world with a glass-half-full mentality, and several songs touch on the intricacies of love. But two tracks stand out, now that Jones is no longer with us. The jangly blues number “Searching for a New Day” seems to echo her life story as she sings, “And with my newfound fame I could lend a helping hand/ To all those in need however I can.” And the album’s final song, “Call on God,” is an affecting and emotional call to a higher power.
Jones may not have caught a break in her career until later in her life. But Soul of a Woman, like her previous records, shows just how much greatness can be achieved in a short amount of time.
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