Debut Solo Album From Alabama Shakes Frontwoman On Sandstone Colored Vinyl LP!
As the frontwoman and guitarist for Alabama Shakes, Brittany Howard has become one of music's most celebrated figures. The band has won four GRAMMY Awards and topped the Billboard 200 with the Gold-certified Sound & Color, the follow-up to its Platinum debut album, Boys & Girls. Howard has performed everywhere from the Obama White House to the main stage at Lollapalooza, where she sang with Paul McCartney at his invitation. In between albums and tours with Alabama Shakes, Howard grows restless. "To me, there is no time off – I'm a creative person and I need to create, or I just feel weird, not fully human," she says. She's channeled that relentless creativity into Jaime, her most revelatory work yet.
Jaime sounds looser and more eclectic than anything in Howard's discography, from the Shakes' two Top 10 albums to her current side projects, the country-tinged trio Bermuda Triangle and her too-tough rock band Thunderbitch. Here she worked with her longtime bandmate Zac Cockrell on bass, jazz drummer Nate Smith, and pianist Robert Glasper, whose work splits the difference between jazz, hip-hop, and modern R&B. The players help to conjure Prince, D'Angelo, and Roots-like sensibilities in places on the record, but it is all Howard's handiwork—a combination of classic songwriting, left-turn instincts, and staggering vocal performances—that brings the swirling musical collage to life.
Howard obviously has many musical influences. She doesn't just listen to a lot of different things, but she's also able to write fluently in different genres. What anchors this album is Howard's voice, and the way it can scurry from a lower register into a soaring falsetto in the time it takes a hi-hat to open up. Her distinctive vocal timbre is the twine that keeps Jamie wrapped-up tight. Not many artists can make loops and electronic sounds feel authentic, but Howard is more than able to keep them feeling warm and natural.
Any discussion of Ms. Howard's music has to start with her voice, an instrument of rare power and authority. It's impossible to hear it without thinking of earlier vocalists: When singing in her lower register, she channels the heavy seriousness of Nina Simone, and when she sings high, she touches on the angelic lightness of Curtis Mayfield. These are lofty comparisons, but Ms. Howard has earned them.