Song 351: Sharon Jones and the Dap-Kings, “Nobody’s Baby” (2007)

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What’s most remarkable about Sharon Jones and the Dap-Kings isn’t that they replicate another era so completely. More impressive, in my opinion, is that they do so without sounding stale or like they’re out for novelty. The Dap-Kings are no nostalgia or “retro” band, and Sharon Jones isn’t imitating anybody. They’re their own thing.

Which brings us to “Nobody’s Baby,” in which Jones accurately cackles, “I’m a bona fide habitat.” Frontwomen don’t get any more uniquely likable than Sharon Jones, who croons, roars and snaps with equal parts hubris and humility. She’s an incredible singer, and she’s perfectly matched with the ever-able Dap-Kings, a band as tight and focused as anything out of the Stax studio. The band’s prowess is evident on “Nobody’s Baby,” which, in its two-and-a-half-minute running time, manages to blend thumping, sharp-edged funk with smooth, Sam and Dave-style soul. It’s my favorite Dap-Kings song because it so perfectly embodies what they’re capable of. And it’s catchy to boot.

Jones recently underwent surgery for cancer in her bile duct, and word is that she’s feeling pretty good—good enough to tour with her band. I have no doubt that the formidable Ms. Jones is up to the task, and then some.

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