Album Review: Charles Bradley – Victim Of Love

The Screaming Eagle Of Soul, Charles Bradley, has released his sophomore album ‘Victim of Love’ via Daptone Records. ‘Victim of Love’ is Charles Bradley’s second full release following his break-through debut in 2011, offering up another bevy of soul-laden tracks interwoven with the Menahan Street Band’s distinct groove. Bradley first broke into the mainstream’s gaze in 2011 on the strength of debut release ‘No Time For Dreaming,’ and has since elevated himself into the upper echelon of contemporary soul music, touching listeners and concert goers with his unique story and unbridled determination.

If Charles Bradley’s debut ‘No Time For Dreaming’ was meant to indicate a sense of time lost, the follow-up is an appropriate complement to fill in the details of Bradley’s fascinating life. Throughout a life of tragedy, suffering, heartaches and pain, Charles Bradley has been victimized time and time again by his dedication to the love of others. While Heartaches And Pain, the story of Bradley’s brother’s death, has already been told, ‘Victim Of Love’ expands on Bradley’s experience, re-enforcing the sound and sentiment that helped the former James Brown impersonator to break through the music industry at over 60 years of age.

‘Victim of Love’ opens with a double-barrelled blast of loving soul from Charles Bradley and the Menahan Street Band with Strictly Reserved For You and You Put Your Flame On It, a tandem of beautiful tracks that set the tone on another uplifting soul record. Introducing a call-and-response foundation that is consistent throughout the album, Charles Bradley shouts of his love and dedication for the listener, allowing the band to fill in the Bradley sound behind him.

You Put Your Flame On It, another call-and-response groove, utilizes backing vocals and the sounds of the Menahan Street Band to provide an additional layer to Bradley’s loving call. While the vocal phrasing found on ‘Victim Of Love’ does tend to over-run the rhythm of the Menahan Street Band, the result is a slower, more calculated sound than previously heard on ‘No Time For Dreaming.’ Songs like Heartaches And Pain had previously hinted at Bradley’s fondness of pronounced, staggered vocals, however the pattern becomes more noticeable on his latest release.

At almost 65 years of age Charles Bradley has released another fantastic soul record. While it does not deviate far from his debut release, ‘Victim Of Love’ is another consistent and beautiful collection of songs that audibly represent Bradley’s dedication to love in the face of contemporary realities. Where former victims of love have sang in search of another, Charles Bradley has become a beacon of love himself, guiding listeners through the storm with an audible energy rarely found in contemporary music.

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