After experiencing steadily growing hype culminating in a rambunctious SXSW set opening for Jack White, Alabama Shakes, an Alabama-based buzz band that combines soul music with traditional Americana, has finally released their much anticipated debut album.
Boys & Girls is rife with tracks that embody soulful, back-to-basics rock ‘n’ roll. Without the frills of many modern bands and a palpable influence by their formation in America’s “Bible Belt,” Alabama Shakes’ sound is a blend of Southern rock, gospel and timeless, vintage soul.
Their first single “Hold On” showcases lead singer Brittney Howard’s raw vocals, which fall somewhere between pretty and gritty.
Boys & Girls displays an admirable amount of sonic diversity: “Goin’ To The Party” is a short and sweet tune that changes up the tempo, time and sound — reminiscent of an offbeat yet deliciously cool White Stripes song. The Shakes take it down a few notches on tracks like “Hang Loose,” a breezier and more carefree number about taking it easy and knowing that “you’re gonna be alright.” “I Found You” goes for subdued soul rather than rocking ferocity, making it a more beautiful number and allowing Howard’s smooth and sweltering vocals to shine through.
“Heartbreaker” unfolds in the same vein — a backdrop of drumrolls and piano keys under Howard howling about her heartache. This song, like all of Boys & Girls, showcases the personal in a loud and bittersweet way, making it impossible for the listener not to feel right there with her and believe every word she says. (7/10)