Country : United States Label : Island Records Genres and styles : Blues / Électro / Electro / Folk / Funk / Rock Year : 2024

Brittany Howard – What Now

· by Michel Labrecque

Brittany Howard embodies the suffering, energy and hope of the American South. Born in Athens, Alabama, she became known through the garage rock group Alabama Shakes, between 2012 and 2016. Then, she began a solo career while participating in a host of other groups, notably Thunderbitch.

Let’s say it straight away: her second opus, What Now, is brilliant.

Seen from here, we do not always understand the complexity of the American South, which we associate with Republican conservatism, white supremacy and the religious “Bible Belt”. However, it is in this part of the country that jazz, blues and trap were conceived. The South is full of progressive enclaves, with a very strong civil society, resulting from the fight against segregation and inequalities.

Britanny Howard, from a mixed couple and born into relative poverty, asserted herself through music, and then through her LGBTQ identity.

His music is also a particular fusion of white and black music. Among his influences are Led Zeppelin, Tina Turner and Prince. All these influences are perfectly digested and reinvented.

What Now follows Jaime, her first solo album, released in 2019. The order was difficult because Jaime was a formidable, eclectic album, in which Britanny Howard’s voice seemed to carry all the pain and, sometimes, the sweetness of the world, through surprising arrangements.

By the way, there is also a 2.0 version of Jaime: it’s called Jaimie Reimagined, her songs remixed or reinvented by artists like Bon Iver or Laura Mvula.

What Now continues Brittany Howard’s eclectic adventure. Electro-funk, rock, folk-blues sometimes mix in the same room. There are also hints of Miles Davisian trumpet and undoubtedly a strong “Princian” funk influence on a few pieces. All the pieces are linked together by the sounds of tubular bells.

On the vocal side, Britanny explores higher tones than in Jaime. We could also say that his vocal intonations reveal less suffering and more hope. However, we feel uncertain about love or the future of our country. Nothing is simple with Brittany Howard. This is what makes her an exciting artist.

Britanny Howard is an extraordinary thirty-something American artist. She will never have the impact of a Taylor Swift, but she plows a much more original furrow. Who will continue.

That said, I wouldn’t be surprised if Taylor likes Britanny. After all, both live in Nashville. And try, in a completely different way, to advance certain causes.

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