The Alabama Shakes' Boys and Girls
- Article by: Casey Stohrer | Photo Credit: Joseph Lanford
- Posted: 04/16/2012
The Alabama Shakes have exploded onto the scene with their breakthrough album Boys & Girls. Their authentic, blues-based rock has taken them from seemingly from out of nowhere--(literally--they are from the rural town of Athens, Alabama)--and launched them into mainstream success. Their sound hails from an entirely different time as well--the 1960's and 70's, the era of true soul and Motown--and that is noticeably their greatest influence.
Comparisons of singer/guitarist Brittany Howard to Janis Joplin and Otis Redding tend to make listeners skeptical, because not only are such similarities unlikely, but why listen to this Janis soundalike when one could easily just put on Cheap Thrills and have the original? But upon first listen, you immediately notice that Brittany Howard packs a lethal punch. She has the whole soul thing down, and unlike certain more well-known pop singers of today, she has a raw intensity that most of us haven't seen or heard since, well, Janis Joplin.
That raw intensity and ability to truly convey emotion through a song performance are effortlessly demonstrated in songs like “Hold On,” “You Ain't Alone,” and the title track--which shows Howard at her emotional finest, and the band at a confident level of songwriting. Fans of The Alabama Shakes are encouraged to view these songs on YouTube, as Brittany Howard exhibits such staggering performances that anyone with a heart and soul will become an instant fan. It’s possible that after listening to the rest of the album, however, some listeners may find it getting to be a little too much of...the same. Perhaps because listeners are expecting every single track to stand alone--probably because The Alabama Shakes have yet to disappoint their audience.
To its credit, Boys & Girls is a very versatile record – it could be a comfort to you if you're feeling lonely, or it could be the soundtrack for a road trip to the beach. Regardless, Brittany Howard has proven her right to stake her claim in this whole soul revival trend that's been going on, and really set herself apart from her more popular, refined counterparts.
Although Boys & Girls is not a revolutionary, mind-blowing album, The Alabama Shakes have laid a good foundation for themselves. Future releases from them will be positively anticipated to see how they evolve as songwriters and performers.
The Alabama Shakes - "You Ain't Alone"