Published Jan 22, 2011Charles Bradley has had more than a few lifetimes of ups and downs, including a nomadic career as a chef that took him across North America while pursuing seemingly dead-end musical ambitions to having his brother murdered by his nephew. This hard knock life is ingrained in every groove of the 62-year old's long-anticipated debut. Produced by the Menahen Street Band's Thomas Brenneck and released on Daptone subsidiary Dunham, with the venerable Daptone crew providing typically tight, slamming, timeless-sounding instrumental backing, No Time For Dreaming eclipses any notion of nostalgia. Bradley is a classic soul shouter and there are more than a few echoes of James Brown in his throaty rasp, yet on the unrelentingly deterministic bounce of "The World (is Going Up in Flames)" and the yearning, conscious soul of the downtempo "How Long" (which recasts Brown's "It's A Man's World" groove in a more downbeat context) there's a lived-in grit that's simultaneously triumphant and melancholic, transforming the material into something resembling a funk injected warrior's reward. An absolutely mesmerizing album by a true soul survivor, No Time For Dreaming is the first essential soul listen of this new year.
Could you tell me about the album?
One of the things that it's about is my late brother being killed. I couldn't talk about it until I met Tommy [producer Thomas Brenneck]. We became very close friends and we started talking about it. He thought I should put some of my thoughts towards music, but I didn't think I could get it out of me. Eventually, we started talking about it more and more. I told my brother's life story while playing the piano and he taped it. From then on I found trust in Tommy; we just played what we felt.
What's the inspiration behind the title No Time For Dreaming?
The inspiration behind all of the music that I've done is I'm just trying to say, "let's make this world a better place, to stop all the games and the politicians and find love in your heart and love for your fellow man." We're all going through some things ― trials and tribulations ⎯ but it's good that we can come together and talk. Because if I can't help you, I'm not going to hurt you; I'll just back off and pray for you. That's the type of person I am. (Dunham)