No Time for Dreaming, the new album from soul songster Charles Bradley, is the latest edition in the soul saga of Daptone Records, the label that has been doing more for soul music than any other label in the world, independent or major. This record is dripping with anguish, sorrow, and pain. Charles Bradley’s voice cuts through you, striking a chord with any painÂ that might be harboring inside of you while the Menahan Street Band provide the perfect instrumental backdrop for Bradley’s voice.
Charles Bradley has had a trying life to say the least. He spent much of it working as a cook in small towns across the country from Maine to Alaska, pursuing his musical passion in whatever spare time he managed to find. After being laid off from a kitchen in California after 17 years, he packed up and moved back to Brooklyn and began performing under the stage-name Black Velvet. Things were looking up until he woke up one morning to police sirens outside his house; he was horrified to learn his nephew had shot and killed his brother during the night.
The pain and raw emotion of Bradley’s life was fully resonant in his voice when Gabe Roth, founder of Daptone Records, happened to see him perform at a club in Bedford- Stuyvesant. He was impressed with his raw talent and brought him in for a recording session with The Sugarman 3. He eventually introduced him to Tommy Brenneck, guitarist from The Dap-Kings, Budos Band, and Menahan Street Band as well as founder and chief engineer of Dunham Records. Brenneck was impressed with Bradley’s talent as well as taken with his story, and he vowed to put it to music.
No Time for Dreaming is the culmination of that promise. This is a deep album that stays with you long after you stop listening. Songs like “Golden Rule,” “Why Is It So Hard?,” and “How Long” cut to the core of your soul. Other, more upbeat songs like “No Time for Dreaming” and “The Telephone Song” temper the mood and are equally as rich in emotion. Two instrumental tracks are perfectly inserted into the mix to add some relief to the pain: “Trouble in the Land” and “Since Our Last Goodbye.” Both are perfect strut songs indicative of the Daptone style.
This album is heavy. But if you like soul music, this record is a must-have.