A Very Mary Album: Rocking to Alabama Shakes
Spotify ads are the work of the devil. Every few tracks and the ear splitting sound of Spotify hawking its own premium services or McDonald’s and their cheesy scripts taking its sweet time to drag out a spiel about a new dollar menu treat. But the one time I didn’t rip my earphones out and hurl my phone against the wall when my music was abruptly cut short, I was graced by an advertisement for a new album by Alabama Shakes, Sound and Color.
I usually ignore these with an impatient huff, but the preview of the album caught my attention.
So for the first time ever, I went along with the ad and decided to give the album a listen. Lo and behold, I actually liked what I was hearing. The first track, “Sound & Color” definitely deviated from my usual tastes of mellow electronica with deep bases and repeated hooks. But it was good. It was more than good. The smooth, soulful voice of lead singer Brittany Howard slowly lulled my eyes closed with the first track that sounded like a slow, intimate waltz. “This Feeling” is another mellow song filled with acoustic rhythms that calms with a southern charm. “Gemini,” is a six minute long slow dance in the fading lights. Subtle reverbs and the lead’s gentle vocals paired with jagged riffs of the electric guitar reminds you to fall in love all over again with how music can just swallow you up. The album has the slow songs down pat to cradle you into the night.
But Alabama Shakes can bring to your toes just as they can gently sweep you off of them. “Don’t Wanna Fight” quickly proved that the band had more to them than just slow melodies. The edgy track has searing vocals that quickly snaps me out of any lull. Howard’s full figured voice rasps in just the right way to leave a tingle in my mind and I’m left in awe of how the band can translate raw emotion into something musical. “Future People” features Howard’s wailing with a driving rhythm that sounds like what you wish you sounded like in the shower. Epic and expansive, the track represents the soul of the band. Big and colorful.
While the album shifts between fast paced and downbeat tracks, Howard’s voice ties it all together. The songs flow seamlessly together, and consecutive contrasts of edgy and soft like hit all the right spots like fries and a milkshake.
So throw yourself out there. Maybe even listen to Spotify ads while you’re feeling courageous. Who knows, maybe you’ll discover something new like I did. And if you’re not afraid of a little adventure in terms of blues rock with a side of subtle whiplash, let Alabama Shakes time of exploration. I challenge you to not get swept up by the music.
By Mary Zhang, Editor-in-chief