Review: Sound & Color by Alabama Shakes

Sound & Color by Alabama ShakesHaving listened to both Alabama Shakes records – their 2012 debut, Boys & Girls, and their new follow-up, Sound & Color – it’s interesting to note the band’s tiptoeing of their sound. It’s obviously a nod to the bluesy, rootsy side of rock and roll, with Brittany Howard’s vocal tricks – more prominent in this record, her yelps and grunts reaching new bounds – doing a big chunk of the propelling. Yet, at the same time, it doesn’t sound derivative. It’s not original by all means, but it’s unique; it’s modern and yet it’s very much a throwback to the past. Sound & Color continues this, but rather than feeling like an evolution in sound, it feels more like a (small-ish) leap. I got this grand, monumental vibe with the album’s opening tracks, culminating in the gut-wrenching “Gimme All Your Love”, before mostly settling down (a notable exception is the sprawling, groovy “Gemini”) for the rest of the record’s run. It seems the band has tightened its embrace on its inspirations, without losing sight of the fact that they can take that thing to new places. For the most part, they have. [NB]4/5

Review: Boys & Girls by Alabama Shakes

"Boys & Girls" by Alabama ShakesAlabama Shakes’ debut release is a throwback to the bluesy yet electric rock of the 60s and 70s, with vocalist Brittany Howard slinking her way through all those influences – a bit of Joplin, a bit of Creedence Clearwater Revival, maybe a bit of Aretha – effortlessly. But while throwbacks are good, I’m not sure Boys & Girls is particularly engaging: it felt like a history lesson more than something I must peruse. Granted, these guys are new, and at this rate I’ll never get to watch them live (apparently they’re really good on stage) so let’s just say they’re just taking baby steps. It is a promising debut – first single “Hold On” never fails to make me jump – and I’m hoping they really find their ground in the future. | 3/5