Local artist of the week Alanna Royale makes classic-minded R&B and soul music for the modern age. It’s a sound rooted in big melodies, blasts of brass, percussive punch, and old-school grooves, with songs that shine a light not only on frontwoman Alanna Quinn-Broadus’ larger-than-life voice, but her songwriting chops, too.
The band formed in Nashville, where Alanna and guitarist Jared Colby relocated after cutting their teeth as working-class musicians in Boston. Once in Tennessee, they teamed up with drummer Matt Snow, and bassist Gabriel Golden, forming a core lineup that often swells to as many as ten members — including backup vocalists and a two-piece horn section — in concert. Together, the band looked beyond Nashville’s country-filled past and, instead, took inspiration from Motown’s soul, Stax’s funky strut, and rock & roll’s rebellion. Tattooed, brash, and unapologetically unique, they stood out in a town dominated by Americana music, charting a unique course whose highlights have since included an appearance at Bonnaroo, a string of cross-country shows supporting acts like Lee Fields and St. Paul and the Broken Bones, and an audience that celebrates the band’s diversity.
On their fourth release, 2018’s So Bad You Can Taste It, Alanna matches the brassy spirit of the band’s previous records — including their full-length debut, Achilles — with rare vulnerability. There’s still plenty of soulful stomp here, from the upbeat sweep of the record’s lead single, “I Know,” to the funky fire of “Giving It All Away.” There’s also a more mature, sober look at the demands thrust upon independent artists — or anyone’s who’s willing to chase down an uncertain horizon, no matter how rough the journey may be. With songs that examine the midpoint between desperation and drive, So Bad You Can Taste It is the band’s most genuine work to date.
Listen to Alanna Royale’s performance of “I Know” live in the ONErpm studio at Lightning 100 below.