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Elle King | Shake the Spirit

The singer-songwriter channels personal demons in a corker of a sophomore set.

Success has not spoiled Elle King. Though by all reports, it came pretty damn close. After her first album Love Stuff shot her to stardom on the strength of saucy single Ex’s and Oh’s, Rob Schneider‘s daughter apparently fell victim to the usual pitfalls of newfound fame: Exhaustion, substance abuse, a traumatic short-lived marriage and the inevitable depression that follows. To her credit, though, she’s not only picked herself back up and dusted herself off — she’s also channeled her demons and darkness into Shake the Spirit, a corker of a sophomore album. Stylistically picking up where she left off on her 2015 debut, King serves up a smoking-hot platter of scuzzy garage-rock crash-bashers, clanking neo-blues stompers, reverb-laced southern gospel-soul stirrers and operatic, string-sweetened Orbisonian popabilly. Sonically, it’s all rough edges and retro nods — the equivalent of a lubricated late-night jam between The Black Keys, Wanda Jackson and Amy Winehouse. But as always, the spotlight never strays far from her throaty wail and raw, revealing lyrics. The latter don’t skimp on the in-your-face attitude and potty-mouth verbiage that’s become her signature — but they also pierce deeper and hit harder than before on tellingly titled songs like Good Thing Gone, Told You So and Sober. The disc gets a touch dark on the back half, but thankfully ends on a positive note, with King proclaiming, “I got a little bit of lovin’ left in me” to a gospel groove complete with chorus. That’s the spirit.

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