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Howard stays true to vision

House of Blues Boston, Boston, September 25, 2019

Reviewed by Jeffrey B. Remz

If expecting Brittany Howard to do an Alabama Shakes redux as a solo artist, think again. Yes, the lead singer of the band incorporates some of those soulful and rock elements of the Shakes, but Howard presents a far different face solo.

She just released her solo debut, "Jaime," and like Howard in a live setting, it's a lower key, very diverse affair and very different than the Shakes. Howard played all of "Jaime" live along with throwing in a few choice covers.

Howard - decked out in red as was the rest of her band - stayed with the slow burn style for a large portion of the 75-minute show. The music was stepped in R&B, but was not on the commercial side by any stretch. Howard also threw in jazzy elements as well with the emphasis clearly on her vocal delivery.

And, of course, that was where Howard excelled. She's an elastic singer, who throws her emotional core into the heart of the material. Howard came off as an old school R&B singer. She bounded about the singer with passion throughout in a concert that grew over the course of the night.

At times, though, Howard would have benefitted from turning up the pace a few notches, something she did towards the end of the night. With the set closing with keyboard-based "Goat Head," which explores racial issues, and "13th Century Metal" and a four-song encore, Howard certainly hit her stride.

As for the covers, Howard paid homage to one of her music linchpins by offering Prince's "The Breakdown." Jackie Wilson's "Higher and Higher" proved to be a very good choice, while also presenting a very different, fast-paced soul-based reading of The Beatles' "Revolution" during her encore.

One thing that remains ever true with Howard is her obvious engagement and love of the music. There's never been any hint of pretense from Howard at all, and she has not changed that one iota. She's something to be said for staying true to vision.

Soul guitarist and singer Charles Bereal opened with a satisfying set of more and was a good table setter for Howard.



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