Daptone announces the release of a posthumous album by Charles Bradley. Listen here to the first extract of Black Velvet.

There is every reason to be cynical about the phenomenon of the posthumous release, given that record companies have seen fit to grant eternal life to certain artists by way of product that may have been dead in the water. Some albums are buried for valid professional reasons. And yet the passing of the singer Charles Bradley last year robbed the world of a supreme soul singer who, at the age of 69, was beginning to enjoy the fruits of many long years of labour in conditions that would have surely broken the back and willpower of the majority of what Sly Stone called ‘everyday people’.

Championed by Daptone records in the ‘2000s and after, he had spent decades plying his trade as a James Brown tribute act. Bradley started to gain serious traction in the final stages of his life, with his 2011 debut No Time For Dreaming capturing the imagination of audiences eager for a dose of real soul in a world dominated by largely synthetic R&B. Black Velvet is the last session Bradley cut prior to losing his battle against cancer and promises to be a fitting swan song for a man whose talent had burned brightly after he had put his hand in the fire of misfortune. Bradley had to come to terms with the tragic murder of his brother Joseph as well as lengthy bouts of poverty and loneliness. Teaser track ‘I Feel A Change’ is a potent demonstration of his ability to pour that sorrow into a vocal performance that is bursting with emotion but is also skillfully graduated between soft and hard tonal edges. It is the sound of a man who has worked at as well as suffered for his art. The familiarly ‘greasy’ Daptone rhythm section, horns and Hammond organ, making us believe that the Bar-Kays are immortal, are an apposite backdrop for a voice set to live on for many years.

 


Charles Bradley, Black Velvet [Daptone]

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