Alabama Shakes – Sound & Color (2015)
FLAC (tracks) 24 bit/44.1kHz | Time – 47:26 minutes | 535 MB | Genre: Rock
Official Digital Download – Source: PonoMusic | © ATO Records
Recorded: Sound Emporium studio in Nashville, Tennessee.

Sound & Color is the highly anticipated follow-up to Alabama Shakes’ 2012 Grammy-nominated debut. “We took our time to write this record, and I’m really glad we did,” says Brittany Howard, lead singer and guitarist of Alabama Shakes, about the band’s new album Sound & Color. “We were able to sit down and think about what’s exciting to us, explore all the things we wanted to on our first album. This record is full of genre-bending songs—it’s even harder now when people ask, ‘What kind of band are you?’ I have no clue.”
The album’s twelve songs reveal a band honed by years on the road, and drawing from a wide range of influences. The bluesy groove of “Shoegaze” or the garage-rock freak-out on “The Greatest” give way to the psychedelic space jam “Gemini.” The gently swaying, chiming title song opens the album with what Howard calls “more of a visual thing, I think of this whole scene going on,” then explodes into the urgent, tightly-coiled funk of “Don’t Wanna Fight.” Long instrumental intros and passages create hazy atmosphere, and then the intensity of Howard’s vocals snaps everything back into riveting focus.
With Sound & Color, Alabama Shakes prove that the response to Boys & Girls was no fluke. Expanding on the soulful blues-rock base that made their name, they defy predictable expectations and map an exciting, surprising, and innovative new direction.

On their 2012 debut Boys & Girls, Alabama Shakes never hid that they were creatures of the New South — a band with old-fashioned blues, soul, gospel, and country in their blood but raised on modern rock. On their 2015 follow-up, Sound & Color, they free themselves from the vestiges of the past, let loose, and push themselves further in either direction. This could’ve resulted in a disjointed record pulling itself in two opposing directions, but the mess of Sound & Color is invigorating, likely because the album uses its title as a creed. Where Boys & Girls sometimes seemed a shade austere — the band took pains to color within the lines, almost as if to convey their good taste — Sound & Color bursts with oversaturated hues so vivid they seem almost tangible. Such deep digressions into shade and light accentuate both the group’s roots and modernity, but the very fact that they chase after such bold, elastic sounds signals they’re hardly a throwback. Plus, the group’s attack is muscular here: there’s a strong, boundless funk to “Don’t Wanna Fight,” but there’s a similar power behind the slow-churning soul ballad “Gimme All Your Love.” Often, Sound & Color takes flight when Alabama Shakes channel that energy into ever-shifting, liquid performances that almost feel like roots psychedelia, typified by “Future People” skipping off its tight Memphis groove with spooky harmonies and thudding fuzz. Such unaffected weird flourishes are evidence that Alabama Shakes are creatures of their time and place — they play Southern soul-rock in an era where the past is indistinguishable from the present, and how the band interlaces the old and the new on Sound & Color feels startlingly fresh. –Stephen Thomas Erlewine

1 Sound & Color 03:02
2 Don’t Wanna Fight 03:53
3 Dunes 04:18
4 Future People 03:22
5 Gimme All Your Love 04:03
6 This Feeling 04:29
7 Guess Who 03:16
8 The Greatest 03:50
9 Shoegaze 02:59
10 Miss You 03:47
11 Gemini 06:36
12 Over My Head 03:51

Brittany Howard – vocals, guitar
Zac Cockrell – bass guitar
Heath Fogg – guitar, backing vocals
Steve Johnson – drums, percussion, backing vocals