A rising force out of Lexington, Kentucky, the band led by Joslyn Hampton came out swinging on their sophomore album, ready to uplift and inspire through their singular and stirring soul-funk sound. 2019's critically acclaimed debut album made them a favorite headliner at regional clubs and music festivals. After a grueling and relentless tour schedule – one that saw them supporting Tower of Power at New York's Sony Hall and Tyler Childers at Colorado's legendary Red Rocks Amphitheatre – the band is back with Bona Fide, a sonically and emotionally charged record that captures their breathtaking live energy as well as their humanity.
Releasing August 25, Bona Fide is a resounding testament to Joslyn & The Sweet Compression's unparalleled talents, as well as an homage to the band's co-founder (and Joslyn Hampton's step-father), Marty Charters, who passed away in 2022. A touring guitarist and songwriter who shared the stage with legends such as Junior Wells, Buddy Guy, and Van Morrison, Charters was responsible for conceiving Joslyn & The Sweet Compression and assembling its first lineup. In addition to co-writing all of Bona Fide's songs with Hampton, he played all guitar tracks on the album and served as its producer.
"I kind of want this to be Marty's kiss," Hampton says. "This is the last thing he put out here to be absorbed by other people. I want people to hear him, to know that this album was made out of pure love for music and love for family. It was put together with love, with thought, and with purpose."
Today, we release the Red Rocks live version of the title track, "Bona Fide," which sets the tone for the record, with rousing instrumental performances laying a solid foundation upon which Hampton's voice soars mightily. "I'm authentic; I'm the real deal," she sings with conviction. "Just stand back and watch my shine. You're used to snacks, but you prefer a meal; ask around, they'll say I'm bona fide." Jocelyn explains: "Bona Fide is a song that encompasses the feeling of a woman who knows her worth and exactly what she wants and needs. It is an anthem of sorts. She gets shit/it done and handles her business. You need this in your life, don't settle for temporary satisfaction when you can build an empire. Know yourself and what you want, and stand firm on that. Get a partner who sees your value, knows how hard you work, and celebrates you.
Musically, Bona Fide blends soulful and smoldering neo-funk with elements of the '70s and '80s R&B. Hampton pulls from her inspirations – Aretha Franklin, Chaka Khan, Whitney Houston, and Mariah Carey – as well as from the opera singers she studied in college. "I find myself applying all of the things I've learned to my passion now and placing it in my music," she shares.
The result is a unique, hooky style that helps Joslyn & The Sweet Compression stand apart from their contemporaries. To Hampton, Bona Fide is a record of a ride she calls "the human rollercoaster."
"You have fallen in love, getting cheated on, celebrating this life – you only get one," she says. "We go through so many human emotions on this album, and that's what I want to bring to life: The ride of being a human! I want to take you to the moment you found the love of your life when you looked across the room. This album is literally meant to take you to every human emotion you have."
The band blends a wry sense of humor into the passion and pain of "Cuttin' It Off," injecting a comical element and clever wordplay into a song about ending toxic relationships with partners who don't deserve you. "Our whole goal was to have something that's kind of comical but real at the same time," Hampton explains. "You go through all those emotions, talk to your friends, kick him out, and move on. These are all things that happen to many people."
One of the album's brightest moments is also one of its darkest: The ballad "Truth in the Moment" serves as a heart-on-sleeve surrender – a raw reckoning with oneself. For Hampton, it's a moment of unfiltered humility.
"'Truth in the Moment' is when you're making all these promises – not even to everyone else, but to yourself," she notes. "I'm going on a diet; I'm going to change my life, I'm no longer going to lie to myself – everything you're saying, you mean them with your whole heart, and then you turn around a couple of weeks later, and you've done none of them. But you weren't blatantly being dishonest; you believed everything you said you were going to do in that moment. In the song, I have to turn to the last person in the world I thought I would have to turn to in my darkest moments and say, 'I know I told you I was going to do better before, but I am back here needing your help. I really did mean it when I said it.' It's always the truth at the moment, and I believe it at the time, but with a soul of steel and a heart made of stone, I promise you I will get there. I just need one more hand up, and I promise you I'm going to do it."
This mix of humanity at the heart of Joslyn & The Sweet Compression's soul makes Bona Fide as powerful as it is empowering.
In addition to Hampton and Charters' contributions, the album features a suite of talented musicians, including Rashawn Fleming (drums), Smith Donaldson (bass), Trevin Little (saxophone), Steve Holloman (keys), Chase Fleming (trombone), Joe Carucci (horns), Jeffrey Doll (horns), Nate Silver (horns), Trip Bratton (percussion), Maggie Lander (violin), and Tom Hnatow (pedal steel).
"I feel like, what we have today, what we are doing with what Marty and I started, is the greatest way to honor him," Hampton says. We are still going, still passionate about it, and making sure that this music and our love for it is being shone to whoever has access. I feel that we are making him proud. We are his manifestation of a dream."
Meanwhile, Joslyn Hampton is living out her dreams as well. She hopes Bona Fide can help inspire others to do the same. "I want listeners to feel inspired and uplifted! I want people to realize they only get one life, and they need to pursue their dreams today. I want them to listen to 'Truth in the Moment' and be honest about their struggles and get through them."
"I want them to see themselves in my songs and inspire them to be the best version of themselves."
Joslyn & The Sweet Compression are Bona Fide, ready to bring their love and joy to audiences everywhere.
For more information visit: Joslyn & The Sweet Compression