Brittany Howard “What Now” 

February 2024 | MUSIC, 24/02

This singer and guitarist first made a name for herself around 2010 with Alabama Shakes. The band she founded with Zak Cockrell on bass, whose style is based on energetic blues-rock, sprinkled with beautiful ballads, marked above all by the singer’s charisma and warm, powerful voice. On her solo albums, of which this is the second, she has broadened her influences, dipping into funk, soul and jazz. She continues along the path opened up by her first solo album, but in a more radical vein, abandoning the easy pop side for an album that is both more uncompromising and more interesting. She explores more styles, of course, but also the possibilities of her voice. Here we hear a track that sounds like something out of the Prince archives, there an intonation reminiscent of Nina Simone, and then a jazzier passage, all bound together by a sound that comes close to contemporary urban music. It’s with talent and subtlety that the young woman mixes the styles and eras of black American music, always with the same infectious pleasure.