Review: Alabama Shakes, Boys and Girls

Music and Art

Calum Bradbury-Sparvell sees if talent lies behind the hype of Alabama Shakes’ debut.

When I learned that Alabama Shakes favoured a somewhat ‘classic’ sound, I was expecting a pleasant but well-worn listening-experience, like putting on my favourite old jumper. However, debut album Boys and Girls may channel familiar sounds – namely that forever sacrosanct trio of soul, rock ‘n’ roll and country – but it glows with character, confidence and general oomph, rare qualities which have launched these modest music-lovers into the international spotlight.

Opener and first single ‘Hold On’ showcases some great songwriting talent, demanding to be blared loud on a jukebox; gutsy front woman Brittany Howard’s husky, blues-flecked vocals lull you into a false sense of security before grabbing you by the lapels with a belter of a chorus. (And if you don’t believe me, watch it below!)

The rhythm section are impressively tight, too, allowing Howard to yelp and ad-lib spiritedly over the top of it all, and Heath Fogg’s riffs pay homage to the tradition laid down by the great blues-rock guitarists of yesteryear.

I’m not the only one impressed, either: at the time of writing, the band has defied all odds with a place on the UK Albums Chart. Looks like I can throw away that jumper.