It wasn’t too long ago when Alabama Shakes crashed onto the scene with their Stax Records sound that was perfectly pressed onto their EP like a diamond in the rough lost amongst some O.V. Wright 45s. It was perfect timing, as the whole retro-rock movement was at its peak, running the gamut from acts like Mumford & Suns to Dr. Dog.
But, and thankfully so, that was never meant to be the full picture. Brittany Howard and company weren’t a band that could be considered a trope, they never wanted to be pigeonholed into the revivalist scene. In that sense, Sound and Color is less of a jump forward, and more of a realization of what this band is capable of.
That isn’t to say there aren’t touches of the retro sound that brought them to the fore, first single “Don’t Want To Fight” is chock full of reference, but this time the 60s soul has been traded in for an updated take on James Brown and Bee Gees falsetto hooks.
But, by and large, the production is the greatest difference here full of, well, sound and color. There’s a lot to love here, but one of my favorite tracks of the moment is “Shoegaze” which bolsters the back end of the album.
Blake Mills helmed the production mantle on this record and the nooks on this song are full of nifty dynamic changes and deft instrumentation. Ben Tanner’s organ gets so much out of just a one note hook in this arrangement, enough to provide a highlight in a song that boasts some great guitar work. Elsewhere Steve Johnson’s drumming weaves in and out of Howard’s vocal, going from classic soul snare build-up to CCR’s “Suzie Q”-esque tom fills with aplomb.
You’re gonna want to listen to this song with a pair of headphones or good speakers, it’s worth the time.