Charles Bradley

Black Velvet

BY Ryan B. PatrickPublished Nov 7, 2018

As someone who's has the pleasure and opportunity to meet and chat with the dearly departed Charles Bradley, it's important to note that the man was a genuine individual. Behind his often-smiling face and gravelly voice, there was a palpable sense of happiness, wistfulness and a true feeling of appreciation and accomplishment.
Indeed, there is an element of pathos to his story, of hardships, setbacks and health troubles. But throughout it all, there was the music for the former James Brown impersonator. Black Velvet was the name he used when doing a pitch perfect take of the superbad icon, and serves as an apt title for this posthumous album. The ten songs represent tracks originally recorded for previous projects along with three covers.
Tracks like the funky "Can't Fight the Feeling," "Love Jones" and "I Feel a Change" aren't '60s soul throwbacks so much as they are genuine articles, with the now-trademark Daptone sound feeling fresh and vintage at once.
The recontextualization of Neil Young's "Heart of Gold" adds a bluesy slant and is a serviceable offering, as is his take on Nirvana's "Slip Away." The album ends with a soul-stirring electronic version of his crowd-pleaser, "Victim of Love," reminding us that he lived what he performed.
Bradley's death from cancer in September 2017 released the American soul singer from pain and suffering. To be cliché about it, the music lives on.

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