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Review: Brittany Howard – What Now

staticwire | April 1, 2024
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Brittany Howard’s transition from her work with Alabama Shakes to her solo career has been nothing short of remarkable, with her debut album, Jaime, setting the stage for a new era of creative exploration. Now, after four years of anticipation, Howard has returned with her sophomore effort, What Now, a record that solidifies her status as a boundary-pushing, genre-defying artist.

From the moment “Earth Sign” opens the album, it’s clear that Howard is taking us on a journey through ethereal soundscapes and introspective lyricism. The hypnotic bass line serves as a foundation for the soulful piano chords and gospel-inspired vocals, setting the tone for the expansive sonic landscape that unfolds throughout the rest of the record.

What sets What Now apart from its predecessor is its sense of self-assuredness and refinement. Howard effortlessly weaves together elements of psychedelia, neo-soul, and dance music, creating a seamless tapestry of sound that is at once arresting and transcendent. Tracks like “Red Flags” showcase Howard’s ability to blend lush synth arrangements with intricate percussion, while “To Be Still” offers a more subdued, jazz-infused moment that highlights her delicate vocal harmonies.

The second half of the album delves into more energetic territory, with tracks like “Prove It To You” and “Another Day” delivering pulsating rhythms and anthemic vocals that are still imbued with a sense of chilled-out coolness. Even in its most raucous moments, What Now maintains a spaced-out atmosphere that adds an extra layer of depth and complexity to the music.

Ultimately, what elevates What Now above Jaime is its consistency and thematic coherence. Howard has crafted a complete and immersive experience that refines the eclectic approach of her debut while pushing the boundaries of her sound even further. This is not just a soul album, it’s a transcendental journey that cements Howard’s position as a modern great.

Rating: 9/10

With What Now, Brittany Howard has proven once again that she is a force to be reckoned with in the world of music. Her ability to blend genres, challenge conventions, and create music that is both thought-provoking and emotionally resonant sets her apart as a true artist in every sense of the word. Don’t sleep on What Now; it’s a masterpiece that demands your attention.

Written by staticwire

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