Let the revival rage on! ALABAMA SHAKES’ newest album, Sound And Color, expands on the 60’s/70’s soul/rock hybrid of their debut album and brings plenty of da funk (but not too much funk…excess funk can lead to all kinds of trouble). To keep things fresh, Alabama Shakes introduce several new wrinkles into the mix.
Sound and Color starts with a lovely hymn-like title track, but ‘Don’t Wanna Fight’ really kicks the album off with its funky soulful guitar and glass shattering falsettos. Howard is painfully convincing as she pleads for peace and understanding,
Until there’s nothing left worth winning,
Your pride and my pride,
Don’t waste my time.”
“Future People” is another highlight; classic rhythym and blues plus herky- jerky guitar multiplied by distorted vocals equates to a memorable anomaly. Then “Gimme All Your Love” gives a contemporary spin to the blues ballad with a beautiful organ-highlighted guitar solo.
Within the mid-album lull sits a couple of fairly graceful tunes before Alabama Shakes cranks it up with “The Greatest” when the spirit of Otis Day and the Knights suddenly take the helm. This garage band-style colossus is a fantastic lo-fi highlight. Its one of those ‘I DEFY you not to bounce to this’ type of songs.
Side 2 of the vinyl is a more atmospheric kind of beast. It may not shine like Side A, but Howard and the crew stay bold on the flip side. The airy ‘GEMINI’ provides a near 7 minute sonic groin punch, as Howard’s vocals are disguised beneath a shroud of moody production. ‘Over My Head’ closes up shop on a satisfying jazzy-jam note.
Vocally, Brittany Howard makes you feel the heartache of missing Mickey Mouse tattoos and Honda Accords (re: lyrics). Rather than playing the part of a 3rd rate Janis Joplin, Howard is shaping her own signature voice and it shines through the studio distortions.
Sound And Color sounds like a band comfortable enough in their skin to explore strange new frontiers: they are an act in full artistic bloom. And, with that, ALABAMA SHAKES avoids the dreaded sophomore slump.