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I have been a fan of Later with Jools Holland for some years now and have felt that it hasn't been as consistent of late but I still watch every week to check out who's on and sometimes I find some great new artists to listen to and a few weeks ago that is exactly what I found in a show that I was very impressed by and liked a few of the other artists who performed. So a little about the band. Well Alabama Shakes are a Southern Rock/Blues band who hail from Athens, Alabama and are made up of vocalist/guitarist
Brittany Howard, Guitarist Heath Fogg, Bassist Zac Cockrell and drummer Steve Johnson. They formed in 2009 and released their debut album in 2012.
**Boys & Girls**
The album was released on April 9, 2012 on the Rough Trade record label in the United Kingdom and has been well received by critics. The style of the album is a mix of Southern rock, alternative rock & blues rock with a bit of Soul. The album was a commercial success too and entered the UK Albums Chart at number three on the back of the appearance on Later with Jools Holland as well as other exposure. I thought I had better check the album out and went to Spotify after seeing them on Jools Holland and downloaded the album after liking what I heard from the rest of the tracks on the album. So here is my review of the album.
1.) Hold On
This is an excellent opener, Brittany's vocals are expressive and distinctive. I really like the guitar melody which is simple yet very effective and catchy too. The track is about holding on and waiting to get something you want when you like someone. It's the only single that has been released from the album so far and is a really excellent track which introduces the listener to the band well.
2.) I Found You
This is a nice ballad which shows a different tone to Brittany's voice. This is a more soulful track and has some nice breakdowns and backing vocals. The track is about the moment when you have found that someone special and realise how much you love them. The track really progresses well and there's some excellent musicianship on show here.
3.) Hang Loose
This is another catchy track, Brittany's vocals are again expressive and the music is flowing and well performed. Brittany really shows a confident vocal delivery here which is a highlight of the track. Another very good track which has some great parts to it with some catchy guitars and flowing melodies it really has a nice summery feel.
4.) Rise To The Sun
This track is another strong song which shows the musicianship of the band and they way they perform together with intricate melodies and some nice hooks. It has a fine laid back guitar solo that has a sombre Blues feel to it. This is one of the best up tempo tracks on the album and really shows their versatility both musically and vocally with Brittany's lead vocals.
5.) You Ain't Alone
This is a joyous track dripping with emotion. It's has some lovely soulful guitars and starts slowly then builds beautifully. It's easily one of the best tracks on the album and of course one of the most emotive too. It's about when you are there for someone when they need you the most, It's a superb slice of Rock Soul and shows off the best of the band and Brittany's emotive voice.
6.) Goin' To The Party
This is a lovely relaxed track with simple plucks and a gentle and relaxed feel. The track is only just under two minutes long but it's a decent 1 minute 45 second track.
Brittany's voice really shines on this fine song, The drums pound in heavily although fairly slowly. The guitar melody is catchy and adds to the emotive feel of the song which is about after a relationship has broken up and blaming your ex partner for their actions. The vocals on this track are amongst the best on the album and really showcase the vocal ability of Brittany. This is a superb track.
8.) Boys & Girls
This track opens with a lovely drum part and Brittany's expressive vocals sound like a combination of Norah Jones and Prince!. this is a beautiful track which tells the story of when she was mocked for having a boy as a best friend when she was a teenager. I dunno some of the things people are mocked for hey?. This is a fantastic track which really shows off her voice to great effect. Superb stuff.
9.) Be Mine
This is one of the tracks they performed on Later with Jools Holland and one I was really impressed with. It's a lovely mid tempo ballad with soothing guitar. The track is about asking someone to be with you and showing them how much you like them. I love the way the song progresses and the vocals are one of the many highlights of the track. Excellent track.
10.) I Ain't The Same
This is a catchy Rock Soul track which starts gently then gets into a catchy flow with Brittany's sweet and varied vocals shining. The track talks about how you change over the years from a child into a young adult and then an adult. There's an excellent little guitar solo that tops things off well here and Brittany's strong vocals take the song to another level in a different way. good stuff.
11.) On Your Way
This track opens with some lovely sweet vocals and gentle guitar. I really like the shuffling nature of the drums which adds a nice part. This is an excellent finale to the album and one that again showcases the talents of Brittany's vocal ability and the musicianship of the band as a whole. A very good track.
This is an excellent debut album from Alabama Shakes, The vocals from Brittany Howard are excellent and a great feature of the album but the songs are also there too which makes this a very good album indeed. If you like Southern Rock and Soul then give this album a go. I for one hope that Alabama Shakes are around for a second album and third! and so on. They have something unique yet draw on their influences to create a fine all round package that should be heard.
Disc #1 Tracklisting
1 Hold On
2 I Found You
3 Hang Loose
4 Rise To The Sun
5 You Ain't Alone
6 Goin' To The Party
8 Boys & Girls
9 Be Mine
10 I Ain't The Same
11 On Your Way