Charles Bradley

Victim of Love

(Daptone)

May 06, 2013 Web Exclusive Bookmark and Share


If there were any justice in the world, Charles Bradley would have been a star years ago. Thankfully, his sophomore release Victim of Love goes a long way toward making up for lost time. (Hey, they don't call him the Screaming Eagle of Soul for nothing.)  Effortlessly marking time with a horn section and riding classic R&B backing, Bradley's velvet croon evokes a bygone era. His aesthetic is similar to that of labelmate and alternate dimension Motown queen Sharon Jones. The throwback performer is so heartfelt that it should come as little surprise that Bradley used to moonlight as a James Brown impersonator.

Unwilling to be a product of the past, the 65-year-old vocalist inhabits his music with an unparalleled energy. (Fun fact: live, he is known not only for busting a move, but also for sticking around after the set to hug anyone within arm's reach.) Grit and joy go hand in hand, from the down-and-dirty "Love Bug Blues," where Bradley gives Shaft a strut for his money, to the sweetly sincere spoken-word chorus of "Victim of Loving You." But it's album jewel "Strictly Reserved For You" that shines the brightest. The song may be a heartfelt plea that borders on heartbroken, but rendered in Bradley's practiced swagger, it hurts so good. An album for the ages. (www.thecharlesbradley.com)

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