sat 02/03/2024

Album: Brittany Howard - What Now | reviews, news & interviews

Album: Brittany Howard - What Now

Album: Brittany Howard - What Now

The Nashville musician continues her epic odyssey of sound in sophomore solo record

A kaleidoscopic collection of tracks

Best known for fronting Southern rockers Alabama Shakes, Brittany Howard has always been something of a rule breaker.

After bagging four Grammy Awards with the Shakes, Howard cut loose from the rollicking riffs with leather jacket-clad punk solo endevour Thunderbitch. A few years later, she’s sitting porchside singing perfect harmonies in Nashville super group Bermuda Triangle. Then in 2019, she hit upon a route less travelled: her solo debut. Jaime was a sensitive ode to her older sister – and only sibling – who she lost to cancer when they were in their teens). 

After five years without a fresh sound in such a prolific portfolio, you could be forgiven for thinking “What now?” That’s, of course, exactly where this Nashville musician wants you for her sophomore release of the same name. The title's double meaning is just as versatile as Howard herself, deftly nodding to both the pace of demand as well as the curveball creative decisions of her career to date. And this unorthodox approach has only been heightened in such a kaleidoscopic collection of tracks.

Epic opener “Earth Sign” pulses like a syncopated heart beat as enormous production values drive us toward a manic crescendo. “I Don’t” boasts J Dilla-style neo-soul smatterings of tender keys embraced in the deepest of roaming bass lines. While “Red Flags” showcases Howard’s staggering, vocal command with the melodies hitting right up into the higher echelons, a sound that could shatter stained glass into a shower of rainbow shards. 

The whole record feels enveloped in a Thundercat-cool, a fellow pioneer of hyper-inventive arrangements. Avant-jazz closer “Every Colour In Blue” even offers an epic trumpet performance from Rod McGaha. But while Howard might dip a toe towards the fruits of funk, standout tracks like recent single "What Now" and “Power To Undo”, with their frenetic fretwork and razor-sharp hooks, help position Howard as a genre-free iconoclast like Prince. Long may she reign. 

Below: Watch the video for "What Now" by Brittany Howard

Its frenetic fretwork and razor-sharp hooks position Howard as a genre-free iconoclast like Prince

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Editor Rating: 
4
Average: 4 (1 vote)

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