Alabama Shakes’ ‘Boys and Girls’ is the album of the summer
Alabama Shakes vocalist Brittany Howard has one of the most astounding and soulful voices in modern music. Her bluesy take on “Hold On,” the opening track to “Girls and Boys,” immediately slams you in not just the ears but also the depths of your heart, mining for a nugget of truth. Think Jack White is he was a black woman and had had some singing lessons. Think Jeff Buckley channeled through Ceelo Green. It’s a tough voice to describe, but my God, when it hits you…
It’s a voice like this that comes along once in a generation. Brittany’s biggest coup is the fact that she doesn’t seem to be trying too hard to hit those notes. It comes out almost like some sort of kitchen conversation/arguement. There’s some shocking passion beneath the laissez-faire attitude she exudes on the albums scant 38 minutes. Her backing band stuns with a simplistic yet effective counter-offense to her voice – a perfect harmony of frayed dissonance and soulful belting. It’s honestly one of the best releases of the year and I only learned of it about an hour ago. “Boys and Girls” is a complex little nugget of an album – veering from the intricate overdubs of “Going To The Party” to the relative simplicity of the shimmering R&B of “Be Mine.” It’s albums like this that make it well worth wading through the sludge pile of albums. It’s albums like this that make music worth listening to.
If you enjoy blues, rock, country, or soul, you will enjoy this album, guaranteed. In a perfect world, Brittany Howard would be on billboards nationwide. I have no idea what she’s like as a person, but her voice is one of the best things about the modern world since the goddam iPhone.
NPR is streaming the full album over at their site, but we’ve got the official video for “Hold On” right here.