There are a couple of months to go before José James releases his next project, his masterful jazz tribute album dedicated to Erykah Badu entitled On & On. How do we already know that it's masterful? Well, it's José James after all, and he recently gave fans a preview of coming attractions at the Kennedy Center where he performed the album in full. He ended his spectacular set with his version of "Bag Lady," which is now the next single from the highly-anticipated release.
The lead single to Badu's seminal sophomore album Mama's Gun, "Bag Lady" is a beloved song from her catalog and José's interpretation doesn't stray from greatness. He retains the laid-back chill of the original album version and takes it to a dark, smoky jazz club. James is assisted in this endeavor by BIGYUKI on keys, Ben Williams on bass, drummer Jharis Yokley and featured artist Diana Dzhabbar on flute.
José keeps Erykah's lyrics intact for his "Bag Lady" cover. But instead of sounding like a sistergirl-to-sistergirl session, he sounds like a wise man counseling a woman to let go of her relationship baggage.
The only thing missing from this is an interpolation of "Window Seat," which José incorporates into his live performance of the song. A "Bag Lady"/"Window Seat" mashup was on our wish list after watching his Kennedy Center set, but this rendition does just fine without it. And that just gives us another reason to see José James live when he decides to tour this project.
While we wait for an On & On Tour announcement, On & On the album is scheduled to drop on January 20, 2023. In case you haven't pre-ordered it on Bandcamp yet, one listen to "Bag Lady" should be all the incentive you need.