Alabama Shakes – Sound & Color

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Memphis soul?  Soul rock?  Not sure.  This is the second album by this North Alabama band, resoundingly good and ambitious despite erratic choices that may put listeners off from track to track.   Such is the price of progress, I suppose, and they’ve certainly moved well beyond what was hinted in their first album and its popular single, “Hold On,” a vocal piece with a catchy tune.

  Alabama Shakes Sound & Color review
Here, the Shakes capture whatever “old” sounds come to mind recordings of yesteryears and insert strong guitar lines and a 21st century modernity to the mix. Big and brassy, the musical aspects sharpen their tone with reverb, cutting guitars that at times sound flat out rock, and occasionally crushing drums.  Rarely can I fault the vibe of the music, though the aggressive chords of “The Greatest” are an outlier, even for an album with great variety. 

What comes and goes for me is what most would consider the band’s strength, the vocals of its leader, Brittany Howard.  She has a wide and powerful vocal range, and she uses it… stretches it… plays with it… here.  And it’s just going to depend if you like it.  The ones I like, I like a lot.  The others… not so much.  Still, it’s a transformational leap to their sophomore release, and I’ll look forward and hope for another similar leap forward.

Recommended: “Gimme All Your Love,” “Don’t Wanna Fight,” “Future People,” and “Guess Who”

3 of 5 STARS_thumb

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