Charles Bradley Balances Love and Politics on 'Changes'

Charles Bradley Balances Love and Politics on 'Changes'
Photo: Mark Shaw
With a remarkable voice that holds a million riveting stories, Charles Bradley continues his rise against all odds with the release of Changes, out April 1 on Dunham Records.

"My life is bittersweet," Bradley tells Exclaim! "I'm trying to forget some of the past, and accept the new things that are coming into my life and I'm opening up again."

Among the many changes that have inspired the new album are the recent passing of his mother, with whom he was close, as seen in the 2012 documentary Charles Bradley: Soul of America. "The lyrics are painful," he says, "but I dedicate [Changes] to her."

Though Bradley's first two albums were recorded with Dunham Records house band Menahan Street Band, Changes sees Bradley collaborate and perform with musicians from across the Daptone universe, including members of MSB, Budos Band, the Dap-Kings and Charles' touring band the Extraordinaires and a number of prominently featured background vocalists (Sha La Das, Gospel Queens, Saun & Starr).

"When me and [producer Thomas Brenneck] get in the studio, it's like a battle between both of us, but we really challenged ourselves to look at the truth, and we know what sounds good and we put it on the vinyl," Bradley says.

Themes on the album include patriotism and despair, but Bradley's heart belongs with the love songs on the album. "I go completely out of my way for love when I want something so bad," he shares. "How I got here today is by showing my love. All the hurt and pain that I've been through."

Bradley admits that the mix of themes throughout the album is intentional. "If you look around the world, one thing you can see is that we can't learn how to get along with humanity. I don't care what you believe in, all I know is we need to find true love and respect."

As previously reported, Bradley returns to North American shores in April and upcoming tour dates include Vancouver on May 20 and Toronto's Field Trip Music & Arts Festival on June 4 to 5. See all the upcoming tour dates below.

Tour dates:

03/30 London, UK - O2 Forum
04/01 Paris, France - l'Olympia
04/02 Reims, France - La Cartonnerie
04/03 Utrecht, Netherlands - TivoliVrendenburg
04/06 Amsterdam, Netherlands - Paradiso
04/07 Brussels, Belgium - Cirque Royale
04/08 Koln, Germany - Live Music Hall
04/09 Berlin, Germany - Astra
04/12 Hamburg, Germany - Grunspan
04/13 Copenhagen, Denmark - Amager Bio
04/15 Bristol, UK - Colston Hall
04/17 Gateshead, UK - Gateshead International Jazz Festival at Sage Gateshead
04/23 New York, NY - Beacon Theatre
04/24 Philadelphia, PA - Union Transfer
04/28 Chicago, IL - Thalia Hall
04/29 Milwaukee, WI - Turner Hall
04/30 Madison, WI - Majestic
05/04 Nashville, TN - Exit/In
05/05 St. Louis, MO - The Old Rock House
05/06 Davenport, IA - Daytrotter
05/12 San Diego, CA - North Park
05/13 Los Angeles, CA - Theater At The Ace Hotel
05/16 Santa Cruz, CA - Catalyst
05/17 San Francisco, CA - Fillmore
05/19 Portland, OR - Crystal Ballroom
05/20 Vancouver, BC - Commodore
05/23 Seattle, WA - Neumo's
05/26 Minneapolis, MN - First Ave
05/27-28 Suffolk, VA - Lava Music Festival
05/27-29 Boston, MA - Boston Calling Music Festival
06/02 Washington, DC - 9:30 Club
06/04-05 Toronto, ON - Field Trip Music & Arts Festival
06/15 Ewijk, Netherlands - Down The Rabbit Hole
07/16 Pori, Finland - Pori Jazz