One look at the lead singer of the Alabama Shakes and your whole paradigm of music is blown: a girl in her Sunday dress, a Gibson SG in her hands (an electric guitar made wildly popular in the 60’s), a voice reminiscent of Nina Simone, the aggression of Janis Joplin, and the musical sensibility of Ella Fitzgerald. What? Alabama Shakes plays Roots Rock, which, if it had to be categorized, is rock & roll that takes its inspiration from folk, blues, and country music. And the thing I love most about them is what some people would say is unpolished; they sound like they just plug their guitars into whatever will make a sound and play music.
You can really hear it… they love the music they’re playing. It’s not to get fame, or wealth, or to top the charts. Remember being a kid and going over to your buddy’s house to listen to his garage band? Maybe it was you with the band, but remember how sweet it sounded? The dirty sound of raw drums getting beat to death, grungy guitars a little out of tune and without the gloss of modern recording technology, and the singer giving his all – just to sing above the noise. Well, this is it. It takes you there. It takes you back to the garage. Back to that moment you fell in love with music. Noah Dorrance from Banshee saw the band in a club in 2012 before they got popular, and for $12, mind you! He told me, “She electrified me, and I told anybody who would listen how f’ing awesome she was. I remember the hairs on my body, quite literally, standing straight up.” OffBeat Magazine once asked Brittany Howard (the lead singer) about their popularity and how they stay in touch with that down-home feel they’ve developed. She said, “I think the fact that we all grew up together and are such close friends helps keep us real grounded. We are all different people, but I think there is a common vision to really be focused on the music and the songwriting and not to get too caught up in being popular or famous. That was never why we decided to do this.”