Being based out of Los Angeles, I have the privilege of living in a state where marijuana is legal (because, if Uncle Sam is asking, I definitely didn’t smoke before moving here). As such, I’ve had the pleasure of lighting up a joint with friends during a lazy afternoon at one of Southern California’s legendary beaches. There’s something so pure and sweet about laughing with your buddies while you play in the sand like little kids and feel the sun slowly turn your skin red, and no song captures this simple bliss quite like Brittany Howard’s latest release “Stay High.”
Many know Howard from her work as the singer and guitarist for acclaimed rock band Alabama Shakes. While the singer’s husky alto is as robust as ever, “Stay High” shows a softer side of the artist. Backed by a buoyant acoustic guitar, easygoing percussion, and lilting keyboard decorations, the modern soul icon paints the sonic equivalent of the serenity you feel while wasting time with friends.
The single marks Howard’s second release in the leadup to her debut solo album, Jaime, a project that is bound to be ripe with wisdom from a vibrant spirit that is constantly maturing and evolving. According to the singer, the album, which is named in dedication to Howard’s late sister who lost her battle with a rare form of eye cancer in her teens, is an acknowledgment of the artist’s past and beacon of hope for the future. She elaborates,
“I wrote this record as a process of healing. Every song, I confront something within me or beyond me. Things are hard or impossible to change, words and music to describe what I’m not good at conveying to those I love, or a name that hurts to be said: Jaime. She was a musician too. I did this so her name would no longer bring me memories of sadness and as a way to thank her for passing on to me everything she loved: music, art creativity. But the record is not about her. It’s about me. It’s not veiled as work I have done before. I’m pretty candid about myself and who I am and what I believe. Which is why I needed to do it on my own.”
In every lyric of the Howard’s latest, you can hear the singer’s plea to revel in life’s beautiful experiences that can be so cruelly fleeting. So remember to hug your friends today, and maybe light one up with them when you take a listen to “Stay High” below: