Just Dropped in (To See What Condition My Rendition Was in) is a heartwarming posthumous release by Sharon Jones & The Dap Kings that adds some heat to a series of familiar tunes that simultaneously pays tributes to Jones’ influences while honoring her legacy as the Godmother of a neo-soul movement that made stars out of the likes of Adele, Amy Winehouse and Lana Del Ray.
Among the highlights of the album are Al Green’s “Here I Am Baby,” “Take Me With U” by Prince and Fontella Bass’ “Rescue Me.” There’s nothing wrong with her take on Stevie Wonder’s “Signed Sealed Delivered I’m Yours” but before her voice chimes in, the arrangement sounds so identical to the original, that Jones’ take lacks some originality to pack the punch.
Amongst the stunners is the album’s title track by Kenny Rogers. It’s instantly recognizable but Jones’ R & B spin on the wah-heavy psychedelic tune is different enough that it reinvigorates the source material. Here it retains its structure, but alters the genre in a way that allows Jones’ rendition to come across like the originals studio cut but from a parallel universe.
Jones’ shot at Woody Guthrie’s “This Land Is Your Land,” strays from the source martial more than any of the other songs on the album and while this might make it the most interesting track to certain listeners, to others it could be a bit too much and the track is likely to be remembered as the most polarizing of the bunch.
Usually a covers album is considered a cash grab or a sign of fleeting inspiration. However, Sharon Jones was a generational talent who came to us late in her life and left us far too early. Her discography isn’t nearly as long as it would be if life was fair and as we approach the fourth anniversary of her passing, listeners are lucky to get whatever they can from the vault. Sharon Jones and her trusty Dap Kings tackle these classics with a bravado and endearing charm that will always be timeless.