Brittany Howard is a master of retro futurism. If her creativity hasn’t shown in her works with her other bands Alabama Shakes or the offshoot alt-country Bermuda Triangle. She shows it in her new album “Jaime.”
Breaking away from the beloved soul group Alabama Shakes after a fantastic two album run due to an intense spell of writer’s block, she truly shines on this record that is rooted in self-exploration and self-discovery.
Howard stretches her creative boundaries with “Jaime.” Expanding in every imaginable way, Howard reminds us she can croon to an acoustic guitar or wail to the sound of thundering drums.
Getting deep into what makes her tick, Howard brings forth emotions from throughout her life, digging into her late younger sister Jaime, whom the album is dedicated to. Losing her life to a rare form of eye cancer at the age of 13, Jaime was the first one to teach Howard to write a song, and Howard writes some of her best yet.
“He Loves Me” is an amazing almost gospel-feeling song; if you threw on warped guitars and a sturdy bass drum at the front of the mix. Howard works best in the pocket of this production though, her voice working as its own standalone instrument, a true powerhouse of soul that meshes perfectly with the distorted guitars.
Nothing puts this sense of exploration through its paces like the song “13th Century Metal.” Essentially a spoken word poem crafted around a hurricane of noise, Howard seems to fall into the current and give a testimony to the power of love and acceptance.
The album “Jaime” rattles around in your eardrums the way the speakers would in an old car you just can’t get rid of. It has character from the first listen, drawing you in and enveloping you in a world of sound, jarring but comforting. Brittany Howard is laying her heart bare on this record, and after 100 listens I’m still hanging on every word.