The Alabama Shakes seemed to have come out of nowhere but the sort of small-town ‘gee, let’s do this’ kind of goodness than can only emerge out of the useless mass between New York and Los Angeles called ‘America.’ It shows in their soul-and-bluesrock mixture, and the fact that no one single player emerges as a major leader in the band.
Even lone female member, lead singer, and powerhouse performer Brittany Howard plays insofar as the band will let her, knowing that this has more potential as a group effort than it does as a potential launching pad for her own solo career. And who knows, in a few years down the line, she could have the same kind of power and draw that other blues-rock frontsmen have enjoyed in recently. But for now, in an album focused on the strengths of the songwriting and the cohesiveness of the band, it’s about as good as it’s going to get for a band that started on the whim of simply having a band, went on to be a popular bar act, and, etc. etc. and on until, well. . . Here we are.