Album Review: No Time for Dreaming by Charles Bradley
Excellent, Based on 7 Critics
Prefix Magazine - 85 Based on rating 8.5/10
The story behind Charles Bradley is the kind that heartfelt Hollywood films are made about. Here's the scene: At a small club in the Brooklyn neighborhood of Bed-Stuy, the 60-year-plus down-and-out soul singer is performing. A man by the name of Gabriel Roth, part owner of Daptone Records, is in the audience and is so moved by Bradley’s performance that he eventually hooks Bradely with a backing band.
Over the past decade, Daptone Records has established a reputation not only as a cohesive record label, but also as a cultural institution responsible for curating a neo-soul revival with a distinct sound. It’s out of this tradition that 62-year old singer Charles Bradley finally overcame a lifetime full of setbacks to debut No Time For Dreaming—one of the best Daptone releases to date. No Time For Dreaming opens up with “The World (Is Going Up In Flames)” as Charles Bradley’s wail reflects the long road he has walked over the years.
Listen to Charles Bradley and you will hear a man living his dream. Born in Brooklyn in 1948, he spent much of his childhood on the streets. The brightest moment of his youth came in 1962, when he saw James Brown’s fabled performance at the Apollo, which left him so astounded that he instantly decided his future would be as a singer. However, there were plenty of setbacks and delays—he lost jobs, he moved a lot, his brother was murdered.
On first spin, most listeners won't be able to tell that gutsy soul singer Charles Bradley's Daptone debut wasn't recorded in the late '60s and dusted off for release in early 2011. Subsequent plays reveal subtleties in production and instrumentation that might tip off some, but for the rest, this is a remarkable reproduction of the sound of classic Southern soul. Its combination of Stax and Muscle Shoals grease and grit are captured in what can only be called "the Daptone sound." Horns, percussion, background vocals, vibraphone, and rhythm guitar form a cozy, often sizzling blanket that Bradley wraps himself in.
Charles Bradley - No Time For Dreaming When throwback soul label Daptone first discovered 62-year-old handyman Charles Bradley a couple of years back, it was immediately obvious to everyone who heard his plaintive, heartbreaking crooning that, after decades waiting for it, he deserved some studio time. While it took a little while for the magic to finally get laid down to tape, the results are worth the wait. Bradley's pleasantly raspy voice sits somewhere between James Brown's passionate yelps and Otis Redding's throaty wail.
Dunham Records, progeny of producer/guitarist Tommy Brenneck and imprint of Brooklyn retro-soul label Daptone, has gone back to the formula employed by classic soul record labels like Stax and Motown: House band + arranging producer + signature vocalist. And what a signature. After being ‘discovered’ in a Brooklyn bar following years of peripatetic work and a frustrating musical career, Charles Bradley arrives with more than enough raggedness and resolve to imbue in his 12 heartfelt, exactingly-performed tunes about love, perserverence and, y’know, livin’ in America.
A new foreman in the soul revival, Charles Bradley understands that the soul of the blues runs in the family. His debut record, No Time For Dreaming, has been released on Dunham Records, an imprint of vanguard Brooklyn soul label Daptone, and produced by Dap-Kings and Budos Band member Thomas Brenneck. Rounding out Bradley’s raw emotion is his bombastic backing band: Daptone’s funky Menahan Street Band.