I’m thinking the folks in Alabama Shakes must have done internships and odd jobs at every studio in Muscle Shoals because they know all the tricks, all the ins and outs, all the elements that make great southern soul music. And on Boys and Girls it all comes spilling out. Brittany Howard takes center stage on the CD with a voice that can be as strong as Candi Staton or as emotional as Etta James’. Her band mates Zac Cockrell, Steve Johnson, and Heath Fogg know to give Brittany plenty of room in the music. But like the great sudio musicians, they know just the right spots in the music to drop a guitar riff and just how to lay down a rhythm that pays off at the end of a song. Highlights for me are “Hold On,” “You Ain’t Alone,” “Boys and Girls,” and “I Ain’t The Same.”
Does the most hyped up band of the past year, live up to their pre-billing? Maybe. No doubt they are a super strong band and as my friend Ann put it, “They’ll be great if they don’t flame out.” That works for me.