Nelson’s music guru Dustin Stashko reviews Boys and Girls by Alabama Shakes
Alabama Shakes are a band from… Well, you guessed it, Alabama.
They’re a four-piece led by vocalist/lead singer/primary songwriter Brittany Howard. She’s got some pipes on her that will blow you away with the range. Comparable almost to Macy Gray (it’s not a bad thing) with a mix of Joplin. With a little bit of polish, her voice will be something to… Ah hell… I’ll be honest, one of the best things about Howards’ voices is that it isn’t polished. It’s raw. It’s rugged. She’s in pain on most of these tunes, she’s been through hell and back. Her voice reflects that.
With the bands garage-blues feel that could be compared to The Black Keys earlier stuff, Boys and Girls is an album to listen to while drinking some beers. You could argue every album could be listened to while drinking some beer, but listening to anything by Mr. Mister with beer just doesn’t seem right. I digress… Alabama Shakes are a Pabst Blue Ribbon or a Budweiser band. In fact, I could see their music on a beer commercial. Quote me on that.
Album opener Hold On has a guitar riff that will get into your head, as much as the lyrics will.
The lyrics on this album are very confessional and are some of the most enjoyable I’ve heard in a while. On Goin’ To The Party, Howard croons, “you gotta take me back cause I’m still somebody’s daughter”, Recalling the innocence of being young and reckless, but still having the sense to know better, and that somebody is there for you.
At 22 years old, Howard sounds like she’s already seen a lot. Like on I Found You: “I remember all them lonely days I traveled out on my own then you brought me everything.” Then, that good ol’ heartbreak creeps up like it does to anybody in their 20’s during the aptly titled Heartbreaker we hear her at her rawest: “You told me so, but then you go. How was I supposed to know?” Howard isn’t just telling you about her pain, she’s sharing it. Her hearts on her sleeve, and she knows that. She doesn’t care if she gets anything back. She knows the end result of things, but she’s willing to risk whatever she’s got for this person. The album isn’t about “the one”, it’s about a stop along the way. It’s about somebody that’s going to shape her, and make her learn from mistakes.
Hang Loose brings things up with a piano-driven beat that’ll bring you up from any crap mood that you might be suffering from.
Front to back, I loved this album. The fact that Alabama Shakes will be opening up for the legendary Jack White during his summer tour, only cements the fact that they’re a great band who are going to continue to churn out great tunes.