Danny Clinch

MusicSummer of Blacker Love

brittany howard’s ‘history repeats’ is an instant anthem

June 25, 2019
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We know voices like Brittany Howard. Full of power and conviction; there’s a magical kind of power in how she phrases things. She is unafraid to be ugly in order to perfectly vocalize a painful experience. At the same time, she is brave enough to embody beauty when she needs to articulate with her music just how breathtaking an event has been.

It has been a while since we’ve heard from Brittany Howard, the frontwoman of the band Alabama Shakes. Their last record Sound & Color came out four years ago, and beyond a punk-garage offering under the title Thunderbitch (2015), we haven’t heard much from Howard or that voice. This has changed.

“I just don’t want to be back in this place again,” Brittany Howard hums on top of funky guitars of her newest single, “History Repeats”. This is the newest single from her upcoming solo record, Jaime (Sept. 20), a record that’s as passionate as it is political. It’s an album that is all about turning the things Howard once looked away from — maybe even kept private for understandable reasons — and finds something new and beautiful from it. Even down to the title of the upcoming project, which is named after the artist’s deceased sister.

“History Repeats” is decidedly political with the title being repeated as the song’s refrain, turning it into the most appropriate protest chant of this political moment — and a metaphor for the human condition. As we start going back into the “again” promised by the current president that subtly means visceral and violent amounts of white supremacy and sexism. It’s important to remember that this expression of oppression isn’t new. It’s an evil history repeated, and we don’t have to do it again.

The sound of “History Repeats” is funky, warm, and familiar. We know voices like Brittany Howard; we’ve called them Janis Joplin, Tina Turner, and Nina Simone. We know situations like this current status of the world: we’ve called it the women’s suffrage, Jim Crow, and chattel slavery. However, it’s Howard’s lyrics that offer us something new and profound, “History repeats and we defeat ourselves.”

Brittany Howard will be headlining AFROPUNK Atlanta.