While Howard admits it was daunting, stepping out alone from her work with Alabama Shakes and revealing so much of herself, it was a necessary step. “I turned 30 and I was like, ‘What do I want the rest of my life to look like?’” she recalls. “Do I want to play the same songs until I’m 50 and then retire, or do I do something that’s scarier for me? Do I want people to understand me and know me, do I want to tell them my story? I’m very private, but my favorite work is when people are being honest and really doing themselves.”
She brought a handful of finished songs to Shawn Everett’s L.A. studio and once she assembled the band – a core group of Alabama Shakes bassist Zac Cockrell, innovative jazz-based keyboard player Robert Glasper and drummer Nate Smith – the music started to take shape. Howard examines spiritual ritual on “He Loves Me”, celebrates love with “Georgia” and “Goat Head” is informed by the experience of growing up as a mixed-race child in the South.