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You might think the lead singer of a band that has sold millions of records and toured the world thanks to songs about a constricting small town life wouldn't fancy sticking around said small town too long. But Alabama Shakes' formidable front-woman and raison d'être Brittany Howard still calls Athens, Alabama home in her downtime. Despite supporting their idols, playing primetime TV slots and receiving 3 Grammy nominations, effectively little has changed. This sense of inertia is immediately evident in Sound & Color, and it's inspired another collection of pure rock 'n roll soul wizardry.

Perhaps it's clichéd but 'second album syndrome' doesn't appear to come into their repertoire. Where others try and fail to recapture a feeling that is no longer there, producing a carbon copy of their debut, Brittany's remarkable ability to portray beauty in banality ensures this doesn't happen. And while it's easy to over-analyse the roots of her songwriting, thankfully, Sound & Colour is so much more than pithy lyrics screeched over a catchy rhythm section. In fact, to dissect each element individually would be to completely miss the point.

In a potentially veiled criticism to an unprepared CNN interviewer circa 2012, Brittany makes it clear that when it comes to her music you shouldn't be asking her "what is this song about?", but instead you should "listen to the song, the lyrics, the way the music sounds, the way it makes you feel... that's what I'm talking about."

So for those digging for non-existent suicidal thoughts like in their calling card 'Hold On', keep digging. Sound & Color is for jiggling your toes to irresistible foot-tapper 'Don't Want To Fight' before razzing out with 'Give Me All Your Love''s psychedelic crescendo. The musical dexterity is more outlandish and enthralling than with in Girls & Boys, without losing any of the rootsy, southern rock which made them so appealing in the first place. One second it will be contemporary soul ('Guess Who') and the next a Jack Daniels fuelled garage-rock riot ('The Greatest'), all without becoming a discordant collection of ideas.

This is partly thanks to boldly creative producer/multi-instrumentalist Blake Mills overseeing the project. Clearly an influence in some of the more extraverted moments, he has also provided that all important Motown, one-room recording feel. It's a perfect testament to cramming group of talented individuals into a small space to make good music for the sake of it. And they still don't care for the private jets or million pound advances they could have had, as it's put well in 'Dunes' -- "I don't know who's problem it is/ I don't know who's fuck to give" -- a reoccurring theme in the Shakes' rhetoric.

It's also refreshing to see the band take a back seat on occasion and subtly complement the sometimes overpowering singing. When you have vocal power akin to an enraged hyena climbing through an oesophagus, the last thing you need is a distorted Stratocaster glaring on top. But ultimately it's evident that despite her vocal power, stage presence and blunt interviews, Brittany is just like any other self-conscious young person. "Those things they say can't get to me... but they do" she wallows adorably on 'Guess Who', and suddenly you realise why you fell in love with them in the first place. Playfully addictive riffs, relatable whimsy and more than enough zeal to keep you wanting more.

Quite simply, Sound & Color isn't an album to Tidal or play off've some 'device', it's one to sit down and listen to in its entirety before happily handing down through the ages like a sweaty bag of Werther's.

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