Jamie by Brittany Howard — Redefining Soul

When we think of the blues we think of names such as Muddy Waters, B.B. King, and their fellow Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductee Stevie Ray Vaughan.

And while all of these men are deserving of their place in modern music history, there’s no questioning the lack of women representation in blues. Which is why it’s refreshing to see generation-defining talent in the form of Brittany Howard. Howard, who has been heralded as the modern queen of blues in music circles, has indeed been vital to the genre as it gets reintroduced to a new age of listeners. And with her new album Jamie, she may have just solidified her place in the pantheon of legendary blues artists.

Who is Brittany Howard?

Brittany Howard is an Alabama based musician best known for her work with the Alabama Shakes. The group won Grammys in 2016 and 2017. Their album Sound & Color was nominated for Album of the Year and garnered the Best Alternative Music Album at the prestigious music awards. Howard has also succeeded as a solo artist, as her debut album Jamie received two nominations at the 62nd Annual Grammy Awards. The album also did well peaking at number two on the Billboard independent charts.


With Jamie, Howard gives listeners 11 exceptional tracks that exude sincerity along with her impeccable technical guitar playing that’ll have you hooked from the first track to the last. She paints a musical portrait of what it’s like to grow up as a biracial child in Alabama through tracks such as Goat Head which describes the stark truth behind racial discrimination. And while the acts described in the song are of hate and the grotesque nature of racism, Howard still manages to captivate listeners — forcing them to face the realities of this world. This theme of combining the harshness of everyday life with songs that channel whimsy persists in other songs such as Stay High. Howard revealed in a previous interview that the song’s dream-like vibe acts clashes with the song’s morose lyrics, which results in the most beautiful of contradictions.

The album does feature some light-hearted tracks as well. The track Georgia is a poignant musical transposition of what it’s like for a girl to struggle with professing her feeling for the object of her affection — a love song that encapsulates the purity of puppy love that.

What makes this album even more impressive is the simplicity in its approach to the music-making process. In previous interviews, Howard explained that she usually uses an overdrive pedal, a tuner, and the Electro-Harmonix Big Muff Pi for smoothly sustaining guitar notes. Couple this with Howard’s signature Gibson SG (a 1961 Les Paul Custom RI) and you’ve got the blues stripped down to its basics. And that may just be the album’s greatest strength. Howard takes the basics and makes them sound so good, an act that only the most experienced and talented musicians can pull off.

If you enjoyed this article, check out our piece on the bluesman Steve Hill!