Adele, Robert Plant and even Jamie Oliver have been heaping praise on this young gospel/rock combo. Alabama Shakes have gone back to their local roots (Muscle Shoals, the legendary studio where Otis Redding et al recorded, is only 50 clicks up the interstate from their hometown) and with The Black Keys primed for world domination and Kings of Leon gone prematurely bloated, they have impeccable timing. Boys & Girls is retro alright but unlike the whiff of charlatanism that hangs around Jack White, Alabama Shakes play like their lives depend on it. Their trump card is the remarkable Brittany Howard, a former post woman, who at a mere 22 years of age hollers from the side of the dirt track like Janis Joplin but also caresses tenderly like Otis Redding. On Hang Loose she urges restraint as the guitars rev and the piano goes barrelhouse and it genuinely sounds like they’re playing in a barn with the summer sun streaming through the lattices. On Rise to The Sun she sounds like a rough-housing Amy Winehouse as she exhorts her combustible band to greater heights, and the full-blooded assault of Heartbreaker (every retro gospel blues album has to have a song called Heartbreaker. It’s the law) is exhilarating. This rousing soul/rock gumbo is a real tonic primed for worldwide consumption. As for Brittany Howard - she’s already a star.

Alan Corr