Album art courtesy of Daptone Records
By Gregor Elgee
You’d be surprised how many rainy days are left in April. Whether you need something to make yourself feel ten feet tall and ready to seek retribution on that former lover of yours, or you’re just looking for something to help you flounder in your own puddle of pity, Charles Bradley will help you get through it.
Although he sounds a lot like James Brown — he was a James Brown impersonator for a while — Bradley’s story distinguishes him: The 67-year old soul singer didn’t release his first album until he was 62; he almost died in a hospital during an allergic reaction to Penicillin, and he lost a brother to murder, all at roughly the same time. Needless to say, much of his music is about loss.
The title track “Changes” wallows in this sentiment deservingly. It is a cover of Black Sabbath’s “Changes”, a band often forgotten as having a strong soul influence. Bradley cries the lyrics over a very low-tempo rendition, singing from the perspective of someone who lost his mother in 2013.
I feel unhappy
I feel so sad
I lost the best friend
That I ever had
In the music video, Bradley stares at the camera with a forlorn expression. You can tell he is still in mourning.
While “Changes” has it’s melancholy moments the album has it’s fair share of “I feel good now!” tracks too. Afterall, Bradley didn’t release his first solo album until 2011. Having found a late start to success at age 62, you can tell the man is as eager to celebrate as he is to mourn.
“Changes” emphasizes his elation more so than his first two albums. It’s more upbeat and even when the lyrics are serious, they’re sung in a tone that’s so matter of fact, you can tell Bradley isn’t wallowing, he’s feeling powerful.
I ain't afraid to love ya
See? I come with open arms
Stop hiding behind religion
Heaven is cryin’,
The world is shakin'
God is unhappy,
Tracks such as “Aint it a sin” comparatively leave room for his sense of humor:
If you aint gonna do me right
I must just do you in!
Aint it a sin?