I was so excited for this album. Brittany Howard, frontrunner for Alabama Shakes, released “Jaime” on September 20th, 2019. Her band’s last album “Sound & Color” had awakened in me a love for music that is still thriving. Unfortunately, this work did not have as great of an impact.
“Jaime” starts off with a funky tune akin to hot chocolate, “History Repeats”. It holds true to its name, as it spends the better part of the last minute-and-a-half looping the same phrase. While potentially effective at keeping one moving on the dance floor, it only left my toe tapping.
“He Loves Me” was no jumping jive either. As I get to “Georgia”, which is a bop, surprisingly, it becomes apparent to me that this album was released for Howard and Howard alone. This could be how she sounds without the Shakes to her Alabama.
Sandwiched between two less-than memorable songs “Stay High” and “Short and Sweet” lies “Tomorrow”. At the strike of a bass, its reverberated incantation beckons you to listen further. Whispered lines and ethereal tones do well to make this song my personal favorite. This is the sound that I expected on a Brittany Howard solo-released album. Even though the music video for “Stay High” stars Terry Crews as Howard’s father, and may be her most publicized from this album, it does not mimic Howard’s ability to effectively dump the listener into audio nirvana.
“13th Century Metal” is essentially a spoken-word poem, one that speaks several truths, but failed to be heard because of its noisome, clamorous delivery. “Baby” proves to be fool’s gold once bitten into, the end opening up to empty instrumental solos accompanied by wailing like, you guessed it, a baby.
“Goat Head”, “Presence” and “Run to Me” do their best to finish out the album, but it did not leave me as fulfilled as “Miss You”, “Gemini” and “Over My Head,” the last three songs on “Sound & Color,” did.
“Jaime” was not up to par with what Howard had previously given. To relate this work to her former, “Sound & Color,” would be to point out a lack thereof. “Jaime’s” sound and color were as drab and lackluster as my grandmother’s well-worn couch. Its notes seemed to take cues from her past accomplishments, but the entire work whimpered “amateur” disguised as experimental.
Though attempted, the album as a whole could have stewed for longer, as it seems as a whole to have been rushed. The Grammy award winning “Sound & Color” held a certain standard that I suppose Howard distanced herself from when she took a break from Alabama Shakes.
Do me a favor, listen to both “Jaime” and “Sound & Color” for yourself and see what I mean.