It’s not secret around the Internet that Brittany Howard of Alabama Shakes may very well have the best voice in music. Her powerful, gale-force delivery on the Shakes’ first two albums is shifting her up the ranks of greatest frontwomen ever and curiously, she’s releasd a solo album unbeknownst to many. That project, Thunderbitch works as a side project from the Alabama Shakes and features members of Fly Golden Eagle & Clear Plastic Masks as a backing band. Howard’s voice, combined with the Nashville experimentalism of her band opts for pure rock & roll of the ’60s and ’70s, some rock-a-billy and some with guitar patterns and vocal dances straight from the deep, good ol’ boy South.

When Howard played The White House a couple of years ago with the Shakes, she was part of a Memphis Soul Revue. Even though the Shakes escaped the box of being considered retro-soul revivalists with Sound & Color, there’s something far more pure and retro about Thunderbitch, in particular songs like “I Just Wanna Rock N Roll” and “Eastside Party”. “Eastside Party” in particular is so Chuck Berry, you’d think the Godfather of Rock N Roll was playing bass behind Howard and just let her rip one good time.

The expression that runs throughout Thunderbitch evokes memories of sweaty juke joints and proud women like Tina Turner, Aretha Franklin and others standing inside of a crowded room and entrancing an audience through sheer will and force. The slow waltz of “Closer” struts like Flair in his heyday and Howard screams, “If I put my reputation up on the line / In an effort to make you mine / Then I love you and you got to be…”. It’s sort of a whirling dervish, a crafty mix of old time blues and a woman so in love she can’t help but seduce out of power. In the promo clip for “Heavenly Feeling”, there’s the lingering strums of a Link Wray guitar and a group of face-painted dopes gathered in an empty field drinking PBR like it’s college night in a small town. As soon as Howard makes her presence felt so begins the drunken revelry, complete with burning couches and makeout sessions like a Saturday night after West Virginia gets a big win.

Listen to Thunderbitch‘s self-titled debut here. Purchase the album on iTunes and Vinyl.

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