Alabama Shakes – “Sound & Color” (2015)


Label: ATO Records/Rough Trade

Review by Warren Mayocchi

The talented Alabama Shakes have released their second album. They are a blues-rock band comprised of lead singer and guitarist Brittany Howard, guitarist Heath Fogg, bassist Zac Cockrell and drummer Steve Johnson. Brittany has a versatile vocal range and at times sounds a lot like classics such as Otis Redding, James Brown, Cat Stevens, Jackson 5, Robert Plant and others. Though they may not intentionally evoke a retro sound from the 60’s/70’s, there are a lot of similarities. I am sure they are obtaining their inspiration from artists of the period. The title track “Sound and Color” begins the album with a vibraphone melody before breaking into an almost reggae song. It has a lush seventies sound and builds to include strings as the song finishes. The seventies vibe continues for most of the album. “Don’t Wanna Fight” has a slow funk with a screeching falsetto chorus – it has a music video for you to sample. As I listen to the songs, they are well put together and the performances are excellent, but they fail to hook me. With “Future People” I understand what the issue has been for me. “Future People” conveys emotion, a quality that the rest of the album lacks. Sure, the other songs showcase musical diversity, and the band play well but I do not feel it with most of the material on this album. “Shoegaze” is a tight pop-rock song and is another highlight from the album. As most of the songs shuffle along, it is pleasant to listen to a faster tempo. Overall “Sound and Color” will appeal to fans of the genre, it debuted at number one in the Billboard charts, but it struggles to keep me entertained. The band is skilled musically but the song writing only occasionally moves beyond standard lounge music. It was entertaining because of the musical talent and nostalgia in the Alabama Shakes sound but there was not enough in the songs to keep me coming back.

Rating – 77/100



  1. Sound and Color
  2. Don’t Wanna Fight
  3. Dunes
  4. Future People
  5. Gimme All Your Love
  6. This Feeling
  7. Guess Who
  8. The Greatest
  9. Shoegaze
  10. Miss You
  11. Gemini
  12. Over My Head


Line Up

  • Brittany Howard − Vocals, guitar, vibraphone, percussion & keyboards
  • Heath Fogg − Guitar & percussion
  • Zac Cockrell − Bass & percussion
  • Steve Johnson − Drums & percussion

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