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Alabama Shakes: Boys & Girls

Album Review

Homage is where the heart is.

Fêted by everyone from Jack White to their most obvious antecedents The Drive-By Truckers, the band from the home of Muscle Shoals certainly have all the right-sounding, raw roots ingredients.

The formidable larynx of Brittany Howard carries the soul-storming drive of primetime Tina Turner with the cauterising melodramatics of Janis Joplin; around her is an outfit well versed in Stax and Creedence riffs, slow burn and the slamdown. 

There is a snag, however – as retro rebuilders go Britanny and co lack the essential compositional might that has always defined bluesy-inspired greats – from Bob Dylan to Amy Winehouse and from John Fogerty to the aforementioned Jack White. 

Impressive-sounding? Certainly, but it will take deeper, more memorable material for them to advance, rather than merely paying homage to the traditions they draw on.

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