The radical stuff erupts out of "Hold On" with such anguish that I'm amazed that singer Brittany Howard's vocal chords are still intact. In fact, I'm amazed so many people have heard it. When "Hold" dropped as the first single, nobody ever heard of Alabama Shakes, and three months later, the CD is available at every Starbucks location in the United States. Such hipster trending! When the Shakes began making TV appearances, (Conan, Letterman, etc...) the public began investing in (or stealing) this little chunk of Southern soul, and that's a good thing. Better this than Kelly Clarkson.
Loose" takes a drive through the Motor City circa '63, and Miss Howard
can wail like young Aretha. The disc also has its fair share of piano
ballads, with little more than a crash cymbal and some light guitar
inter-working. The title song and standout, "Boys & Girls," shows
how ballads can work magic when the singer means it. Anyone who loves
blues-rock must get this. There are lots of surprises to be found in
this little band from Athens, Ala., who are suddenly getting all the
boys and girls with true authenticity.
-Originally published in the Detroit Metro Times on June 6th, 2012