Jaime – Brittany Howard

This is an album of constant innovation, a prog rock slamdown full of otherworldly harmony and perfectly calibrated rhythms. From the constantly interesting guitar grooves of “History Repeats” to the cinematic zoom-out of “Run To Me”, this album is perpetually confusing and always pleasing to the ear. Playing jagged harmonies with gentle synths, sweet guitar tones, and lilting vocals, Brittany Howard pushes hard into brightness for a kind of haunting dissonance that is seldom explored and magnificently displayed here. She moves straight from “Short and Sweet”, an emotional ballad with hard-hitting vocals that I’m pretty sure was recorded in one take, into “13th Century Metal”, an overwhelmingly busy keyboard-driven distorted electronic spoken word track which trawls its way through dimensions of delirium. The disconnect between gentle instrumentation and jagged harmony fits songs like “Goat Head”, where Howard discusses the racist violence she experienced as a child while keeping a kind outstretched hand to the listener. The percussion is fantastic on this album, from the grounded rock beats of “Georgia” to the bustling forward push of “13th Century Metal” to the awe-inspiring echoing drums of “Run to Me”. I have to highlight “Tomorrow”, which uses chopped-and-screwed fermatas to transition from slow, emphatic R&B into hard-to-count progressive jazz interludes; the harmony is alien and incomparable, lifting off into great big orchestral chords which seem to continually leapfrog over each other on the V#. This is a spectacular album, full of wild turns (I want to talk about them but I don’t want to spoil them), surprise riffs, and expertly plotted melodies. I want to learn to sing with Howard’s ubiquitously clear emotion. Do yourself a favor: listen to this album.

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