Rare is the song that gives me goosebumps twice. “You Ain’t Alone” off Alabama Shakes’ debut album, Boys and Girls, does this in the space of a few seconds. And for this reason, it is hard to imagine this showcase for Brittany Howard’s naked, soulful vocals not appearing near the top of my favorite songs list at year’s end.
As I type this, Alabama Shakes’ single “Hold On” is playing at the Starbucks where I sit. The hype machine is in full effect. And yet I am OK with this. Alabama Shakes’ brand of southern rock circa 2012 feels deserving of acclaim, especially when compared with someone like Lana Del Rey.
Authenticity is key, yes. So is the power of Howard’s voice and the clarity of her message. I read an Atlantic article earlier this week about our society’s prevailing loneliness. To hear her sing is to be invited, to be reassured in the face of uncertain times.