4 Out Of 5 Stars
First of all, there is that voice. Brittany Howard is a force of nature, one to be reckoned with, and she makes it count on Alabama Shakes' second album, "Sound and Color." Now that they've established themselves with their still awesome debut, they used the time wisely to both road test the new songs and use the studio as an instrument. The opening vibes on the title track are your first clue. There's a touch of psychedelics there, but don't fret. "Don't Wanna Fight No More" is one of those songs where Brittany just cuts loose. It's a hot vamp for guitarist Heath Fogg to work over. Or take in the primitive stomp on "Gemini."
There's a lot of that going on for "Sound and Color." The band is mixing it up, the way the album's title would suggest. They still have that dirty south feel to the sound of it all, but they also want to expand their range. They're painting with a much broader palette than before. Be it the garage band pulse of "The Greatest" or the blues wail of "Gimme All Your Love," "Sound and Color" is a huge leap forward from "Boys and Girls." Once again, this band is a force of nature. Raw and roots, soul and rock, it all comes together.