Album: Sharon Jones and the Dap-Kings, I Learned the Hard Way (Dap-Tone)

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The Independent Culture

The best retro-soul band in the world gets back to top form with a sassy collection of 1960s-style songs. (Think Back to Black with added authenticity.)

An opening sequence of three dance-around-the-kitchen numbers is hard to beat, but that third song, a loose-limbed funky strut called "Better Things", is so amazing you might never get beyond it. There's a slight dip thereafter, but a great recovery with the final, girl-group number, "Mama". Only a hair's-breadth away from a total standing ovation.