Just for the record: Alabama Shakes, rattle and rock ’n’ roll


Just for the record: Alabama Shakes, rattle and rock ’n’ roll

A fortnightly look at music on vinyl

Andrew Donaldson

They’ve won Grammys in rock, alternative and roots categories. But, as their fans can tell you, there’s heaps more to Alabama Shakes than that. Try gospel, blues and deep-fried Southern soul, too. Now comes Jaime (Columbia), the debut solo album from the group’s frontwoman, Brittany Howard, which mixes styles and genres even further in one of the best roots releases of 2019.

Jaime is named after Howard’s sister, who died from cancer when she was 13. The songs here were borne from a journal she kept in an attempt to deal with her grief and loss, and despite the album’s brevity – a mere 35 minutes – here is, as one critic put it, “a lifetime’s worth of drama and insight … bracing in its adventure and generosity”. 

One thing it is not, however, is another Alabama Shakes record. Aside from the anger in 13th Century Metal, a furious collaboration with jazz keyboardist Robert Grasper riffing with Howard’s spoken verses, most of Jaime is a languid, laid-back and almost stoned affair...

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