Brittany Howard - What Now
Feb 9, 2024
70
Howard, known for her success as the frontperson of Alabama Shakes continues to push her artistic boundaries with "What Now," a mesmerizing exploration of love, fading passion, and human connection.

Adeptly gilded by complex vocal harmonies, jazz-infused drums, and an array of unconventional instrumentation, the album opens with the electrifying "Earth Sign”. Compared to her previous album this does happen to have more pop sensibilities, while delivering a kaleidoscope of sounds; the LP delves into R&B and house, with some soul and funk sprinkled in. The result is a diverse yet surprisingly cohesive collection of Howard’s sharp and impactful songwriting while making use of the familiarity and catchiness of dominant genres.

Howard's authenticity permeates every note. From her vocals to lyrics the meditative instrumental endings, marked by soothing synth sections, although overdone to some degree, help break the flurry of complex instrumentation and keep the pace in control. She said that she did “transcendental meditation” during the making of this album which makes a lot of sense given the very reflective nature of a lot of tracks here.

Howard's prowess as a musician shines through in every aspect of the album. Her mesmerizing guitar performances, and her gorgeous vocal delivery on tracks like "Patience" is stunning, tying the various genre influences incredibly well together.

Her lyricism is serene, introspective, and warm. On “To be still” she says.
“I daydream to be a flower in your garden/
I'd drink your hose-pipe water/
I wonder how delicate is your touch/
For something you love so much?/
I wonder if I didn't have to wonder?”

Howard has not only proven that she’s still got it but promises a beautiful new journey in music with a completely revamped, expansive sound palette. Through slow, calm tracks to euphoric crescendos, she creates a very real and heartfelt portrayal of a feeble relationship.

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