One Part Blues, Two Parts Soul
With his raw, powerful vocals and groovy, bluesy beats, Charles Bradley executes his first full-length studio album with an urban poise that evokes the heartbreaks and tribulations of the musician’s hard knock life.
The album begins in a manner that justifies Bradley’s persona as “the Screaming Eagle of Soul,” combining his James Brown-esque vocals with soulful piano, bass, and trumpet instrumentation in “This World (Is Going Up In Flames).” This sets the stage for the rest of the album, though some of the proceeding tracks leave less than a significant impression with lyrics that err on the side of forlorn love poetry.
A pattern emerges in which songs of social commentary are offset with the cries of a yearning lover, while funky instrumental tracks with hints of Latin jazz flavor are tastefully added in the mix. Songs like “Golden Rule” and “Why Is It So Hard” ask why we can’t “show more love to make this a better day” and illuminate the inherent issues in achieving the American dream in a modern “land of milk and honey.” Yet Bradley makes sure to relate to a wider array of listeners by singing about love’s ups in “Lovin’ You Baby” and heartache in “The Telephone Song.”
In short, No Time for Dreaming is the kind of album that’s perfect for the long drive home after a hectic day’s work or a walk in the park after a lover’s quarrel. Sure—the instrumental interludes provide a few minutes of upbeat funk—but expect to be captivated more by Bradley’s emphatic vocals than anything else on this album.