Drive By Baby by Alabama Shakes
By Ron Powers
Drive By Baby by Alabama Shakes
I hope you’re enjoying the holiday season and all the festivities that go along with it. This month I’ll be focusing on a new track by Alabama Shakes. The Athens, Alabama hailing band recently released a deluxe edition of their 2015 multi-Grammy-winning album “Sound & Color” which includes three new tracks. “Drive By Baby” is one of the three new songs and I’ll be discussing it here. This song offers all the rich and textured sound we’ve come to expect from Alabama Shakes along with up-tempo almost punk rock energy.
“Drive By Baby” begins with a fast drum roll played on a piccolo snare, a fresh and clean guitar rhythm, and a rambling bass line. An image of the Road Runner from Loonytoons cartoons comes to mind for some reason. The feeling is so light and zippy, it lifted my mood right away. As the first verse is introduced, low-end frequencies and light distortion are added to the mix, giving the song’s sound plenty of extra weight. We then hear singer Brittany Howard deliver the lines: “I see you screaming, and I’ve never seen you here before / Well come on baby you got my attention come on and get you some more / You give me feelings feeling that I couldn’t digest / I’m in your future You just don’t even know.”
After the verse, the band switches gears and delivers an unconventional and understated chorus. We hear the instrumentation stripped back to bass guitar and drums during this section, with guitar lightly following the bass line. Atop the music multiple layers of vocals are added which repeat the lines “Drive by baby won’t you let me ride / Then we’ll ride all right all right all right”. These lines have a smooth rock-n-roll attitude that is easy to groove to. The groove mixes nicely with the fast pace of the drums, and the repetitive guitar riff creates a satisfying tension that builds nicely into the guitar solo.
For the guitar solo, the band employs a no-frills lightly saturated guitar tone. This allows for the spunky Chuck-Berry-like vibe of the lead guitar to shine through clearly. Howard also matches the notes of the solo with a falsetto melody adding extra charm and depth to the sound. Under the solo, the rhythm guitar delivers a single-string straight rhythm composed of two notes while the bass and drums maintain a funky groove to keep the hips moving. As the solo draws to a close we hear the lead guitar transition into swelling and chaotic notes. As this happens the drums switch to double-time just before releasing into a sparse rhythmic transition before the second verse.
As some of you may already know, Alabama Shakes disbanded in 2018. So, unfortunately, there will not be any tour dates coming. However, the band’s music lives on and with the new song off the deluxe edition of their album Sound & Color, their legacy is enriched all the more. If you’d like to listen to Alabama Shakes music you can find it on Spotify, Apple Music, YouTube, and most places music is streamed or sold. In addition, lead singer Brittany Howard has an amazing solo project. If you’d like to learn more about what she is doing, go to brittanyhoward.com where you’ll find her music, tour dates, and news.