Alabama Shakes – Boys & Girls

‘Boys & Girls’ is Alabama Shake’s debut album I brought my Papa for Father’s Day. The album starts with their very solid single ‘Hold On’ which I had listened to several times before the album was released.

‘I found you’ follows up next and could easily be taken from a Plan B album which surprises me – that murky Alabama guitar stomp I so love had shifted and changed into gentle strumming. Effects have been placed on Brittany Howard’s vocals to create an echo – much like the one Plan B overused in ALL OF his songs – as though both Howard and Plan B want to wipe off the fact they’re contemporary.

But then ‘Hang Loose’ takes it back to a cheerful ‘deep south’ gallop, but yet I still can’t help but feel Howard is holding back still in her vocals and isn’t belting it out like an untamed beast like she does in ‘Hold On’. No doubt she’s talented, but in my opinion she should proceed taking her voice through Holwin’ Wolf-esques and Seasick Steve bellows, instead of a side of Alabama which is delicate and softly sung. I don’t mind the fact some songs seem to be about breaking up – break up songs don’t have to be soft, they can be gritty, bitter and angry too. Maybe that’s just my personal preference– but her vocals on ‘Hold on’ was what had seized everyone’s attention.

These songs could easily slide into desperate heavier Etta James-style cries but seem to end too quickly – not just the vocals but the riffs, bass and the the beat also. So perhaps the Shake’s left room for this in their live show to go crazy and decided to not record this energy, which is a shame.

This could progress however, if the Shakes don’t get swallowed in the sea of one-hit wonders. Come on Brittany.

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