Alabama Shakes, “Don’t Wanna Fight” from Sound and Color (2015): One Track Mind

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Lean and hurtful, anthemic and damaged, “Don’t Wanna Fight” pulls no punches — not musically, not emotionally. Instead, the advance track from the forthcoming Sound and Color reminds you of the spell-binding power of Alabama Shakes. But then something else, too. Something more.

“Don’t Wanna Fight” begins, as these kind of dark power struggles often do, in a place of quiet resignation, then Brittany Howard builds toward a fiery defiance that belies that pain, only to recede back into something that sounds like a combination of exhaustion and wispy passion. You realize, at the end, that there is something worth fighting for after all, just not like they were before.

It’s a bravura performance from the huge-voiced Howard — who shows a stirring, and largely newfound, sense of control on this perfectly attenuated outing. Always a belter, with “Don’t Wanna Fight,” she’s showing dizzying new depths.

Sound and Color, due on April 21, 2015 from ATO in North America and a day earlier via Rough Trade elsewhere, is Alabama Shakes’ long-awaited follow up to 2012’s gold-selling Grammy-nominated debut Boys and Girls. This time, they worked with producer Blake Mills at Nashville’s Sound Emporium, a studio which was originally built Cowboy Jack Clement of Sun Records fame.

Nick DeRiso

Nick DeRiso

Nick DeRiso has written for USA Today, American Songwriter, All About Jazz, and a host of others. Honored as columnist of the year five times by the Associated Press, Louisiana Press Association and Louisiana Sports Writers Association, he oversaw a daily section named Top 10 in the U.S. by the AP before co-founding Something Else! Nick is now associate editor of Ultimate Classic Rock.
Nick DeRiso
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