Sharon Jones & The Dap-Kings
Just Dropped In (To See What Condition My Rendition Was In)
After passing away following a battle with cancer in 2016, Sharon Jones and her backing band, The Dap Kings, left behind a legacy of classic soul made for the 2000s. Having released her final album, Soul Of A Woman, posthumously in 2017, Jones & The Dap Kings are back with Just Dropped In (To See What Condition My Rendition Was In). The latest studio album is a collection of covers that were previously released as standalone singles, were released through various compilations and soundtracks, or have remained unheard until now.
Originally recorded for a TV commercial, Just Dropped In (To See What Condition My Rendition Was In) opens with Jones’ cover of the Stevie Wonder classic, “Signed, Sealed, Delivered I’m Yours”. The faithful cover showcases Jones’ soulful alto rasp and dynamic vocal range. The track, similar to much of the older numbers, was recorded using instrumental tones to give off a strong vintage vibe which only serves to further the listening experience. Even moving away from classic R&B to the follow tracks, Dusty Springfield’s “Little By Little” and Kenny Rogers’ “Just Dropped In (To See What Condition My Rendition Was In)”, prove to be surprising adaptations that fit seamlessly with the tone of Jones & The Dap Kings.
Sharon Jones & The Dap Kings truly are an incredible pairing; her magnificent voice reminiscent of some of the greatest soul vocalists and the band showing a level of sophistication and taste to bring their arrangements to life with a priority on grooving hard, as best heard on the album’s closing track, an instrumental cover of Bad Medicine’s “Trespasser”. Among the 13 tracks, the brilliant adaptation of Prince’s “Take Me With U” is a stunning example of sublime yet drastic adaptation that feels both familiar and brand new. Furthermore, the Woodie Guthrie anthem “This Land Is Your Land” is almost unrecognizable with its slow swagger and lush accents from the horn section. Additional highlights include covers of The Marvelettes’ “Here I Am Baby”, Gladys Knight’s “Giving Up”, and Bob Marley’s “It Hurts To Be Alone”.
As far as cover albums go, Just Dropped In (To See What Condition My Rendition Was In) avoids the typical clichés associated with this type of record, including general cheesiness, uninspired performances, poor song selection, and rushed production. Despite the lack of cohesiveness that comes with the intent of recording an album of covers, Sharon Jones & The Dap Kings shine as the incredibly tight band that they were over soul, funk, and pop classics, and manage to pull a surprising level of conviction on a number of tributes and covers that seem out of left field. Ultimately, Just Dropped In (To See What Condition My Rendition Was In) is a testament to the legacy of not only Jones, but also the Dap Kings and their artistic contributions to the classic blues and soul revival of the past two decades.
SPILL ALBUM REVIEW: SHARON JONES & THE DAP-KINGS – JUST DROPPED IN (TO SEE WHAT CONDITION MY RENDITION WAS IN)