What Now

What Now

“This album is actually an album of questioning. There's a lot of introspection, and within that, I'm answering questions that I've never had the space or capacity to ask,” Brittany Howard tells Apple Music about What Now, the Alabama Shakes singer-guitarist’s second solo album. “I was always so busy, I was always running around, I was on tour, I was preparing this, preparing that. This time I told myself when I would go in there and make songs in my little demo room, ‘No one's ever going to hear this,’ and it was very freeing.” Of course, people would end up hearing those songs, but that mindset helped Howard write from a brave new perspective. She dives into her personal history and guiding philosophy in a vulnerable way, like she did on 2019’s Jaime, but this time, the instrumental choices are bolder and more unexpected than ever before. “Power to Undo” is a folk-rock tune that showcases the album’s central theme. “You have the power to undo everything that I want/But I won't let you,” she sings. Once that’s revealed, the song descends into an acid-funk freakout, built around scratchy guitars and ramshackle drums. “‘Power to Undo’ is actually about freedoms,” she says. “A lot of people can experience this feeling of ‘I know I shouldn't do that. I know I need to keep moving in this direction.’ It's just about this thing chasing you down, and you're like, ‘No, you're not going to get me, I'm not going to change directions.’” Elsewhere, on “Prove It to You,” Howard cues up gauzy synths and a dance-floor drum groove that’s made for an after-hours. It’s the furthest from the rootsy rock Howard rose to fame with, but the creative risks of What Now suggest an artist more interested in following a muse than replicating past successes. “I am always expanding and evolving and trying new things,” Howard says. “That's the most fun about being a creative person—trying things that challenge you and you don't know anything about.”

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