Artist: Alabama Shakes
Album: Sound & Color
Label: ATO (U.S.), MapleMusic (Canada), Rough Trade (U.K.)
Release Date: April 21, 2015
By: Joseph Kurbanov
A furious streak, with startling rawness in her delivery, is possessed by Brittany Howard and she can really raise the roof. Back in the day, when people thought about Alabama Shakes, the first and probably the only thing that came to their mind was Brittany Howard. The musicians on the band hadn’t taken the music anyplace interesting even though they knew everything about Memphis soul.
However, a couple of years on the road has made all the difference, and what a difference it’s been. The shakes with Sound & Color have internationalized their influence by owning up to their music. This time around, the band manages to shed new light on every influence it draws from, even though you’ll notice phrasing and licks being modeled after classic songs.
With this new album, Alabama Shakes have pushed things higher with the musicians matching Brittany Howard’s intensity. There are certain similarities between Alabama shakes’ debut album and this one but highly addictive tracks like “Don’t Wanna Fight” give those unexpected swerves.
Compared to their previous albums where you felt like you were just going through a collection, Sound & Color has more realness, practicality, and grit attached to it. A dusty, warped as well as clear and lifelike feel is provided by producers Sara Watkins, Blake Mills, Sky Ferreira and a host of session musicians. It’s Roots Music modernized.
With each player committing impressive performances to tape, the band itself plays a big part too. The voice of leading lady Brittany Howard is of course a vital aspect for the album’s success but the music is dragged back and given its laid-back style by drummer Steve Johnson with his signature down tempo groove.
The creative powers on Sound & Color are shown by Alabama Shakes much like the Black Crowes did on their sophomore effort. The song front woman Brittany Howard sings on the album’s title track “I want to touch a human being” connects spiritually with audiences. You’ll feel like you are in the presence of four human beings actually making music in a room or feel like you’re making it yourself while listening.
With this follow up, this album will definitely be an important summer play…