Alabama Shakes - Boys & Girls
Released on Rough Trade, 10/04/2012
Imagine if Poly Styrene was still in her early twenties but was given a taste for the golden age of Stax Records and the Muscle Shoals Sound Studio.
Only with that quantity of female bad-assery, could you ever hope to reproduce the sun-drenched, Rock and Soul debut ‘Boys & Girls’ from Brittany Howard’s Alabama Shakes.
‘Boys & Girls’ contains a bit of blues, a bit of rock ‘n’ roll and a hell of a lot of soul. In stand-out track ‘Hold On’, Howard literally counts her blessings and ponders the existence of a higher deity, whereas in ‘I Found You’ Howard’s scat section brings up a reminiscence of Janis Joplin while the rest of the band play with raw simplicity that wouldn’t be out of place on a White Stripes record. It should come to no surprise that Jack White is a fan of the band, presumably as it is difficult to find another band since the White Stripes whose music reflects their roots so perfectly.
In a genre where females are regularly banished behind a bass drum it is as inspiring, as it is exciting, that a band with a front-woman can create music that transcends notions of ethnicity and era so spectacularly.
As a female music critic reviewing an album by a female fronted band, it is predictable that my review on Boys & Girls by Alabama Shakes highly concentrates on gender. It has been cited by critics that female journalists writing about female artists can either be “extremely reluctant to compliment the artist” or, on the contrary, “are highly complementary of the artist and her work” (Jones, S. 2002). As my review is positive, my language reflects this, I do not use words such as ‘girls’ that infantilises women, but instead I use standard nouns such as ‘female’ and ‘front-woman’, the only time I really correlate gender with being a positive influence on the music is with my term ‘female bad-assery’. On a whole I am pleased with my review, I feel as if I make my point effectively and it displays my knowledge of music, I think my review would fit in perfectly in any mainstream music paper.
Jones, S (2002). Pop Music and the Press. Philadelphia: Temple University Press. 55.