One of my favorite songs of all time is “Gimme All Your Love” by the Alabama Shakes. It’s what love sounds like to me. The highs and lows, twists and turns. It is a rollercoaster. “Gimme All Your Love” is ageless, as if it could take up a smoky room in a detective 1960s film, late 80s coming-of-age romance montage, or a glance that leads to a passionate fire and the inevitable extinguishing of the flame.
The song encapsulates soul. Rests are weaponized to deliver the quiet and emptiness that naturally happen in relationships. The keyboard surrounds you, so you are always accompanied throughout the song — except for the beats, which make the silence powerful. But when the sound kicks back in, you are grasped by the electric guitar and pulled into the depths of loneliness that only comes from love. The bass is soothing but vociferous, a tender touch. The drums rock the boat to a soulful tap.
Lead singer Brittnay Howard pulls you into her embrace. The prowess of this song is impossible without her, there’s not another singer out there right now who meets her on her level. She’s a physical but uneasy comfort. Howard is crying out — if love had a voice, she is a woman possessed. It’s booming with passion and as fragile as glass. She encompasses the intenseness of love at first sight and the gut wrenching pressure when you lose them.
The groove is sexy and longing, and plays out like a flirty conversation. As Howard reaches the chorus, she leans into the emotion, almost like a desperate, longing, passionate, kiss. The verses are the slow moments, smoothing out the creases. An easy look across the table. Holding hands in the cold. A calm Sunday morning. The lyrics hit at tension pulling on strings of this relationship being spun out, and you can lose yourself in them easily until you are sucked back into the ardent chorus, demanding your attention.
But then you hit the bridge, where slow guitar lulls you in. The bass guides you through the racing emotions and thoughts in the background. I’m a sucker for a bass solo, and out of all songs to have a killer, this isn’t the one I would guess. The bass solo is the definition of funk. The guitars play off of each other, mimicking a couple diving into the undying argument that only ends in silence. And then the guitar solo is the blow-up, screaming for change. Brittany bursts open the dam with a ravenous “Gimme All Your Love.” The song then settles back into its beginning tempo. It’s either the acceptance of a failed love or remembrance of how it started.
It’s, quite frankly, the perfect song. It’s otherworldly but roots your feet to the ground at the same time.The studio version of this track is one thing, but the performance Alabama Shakes delivered on Saturday Night Live is a whole other beast. I wouldn’t call this a love song, because it’s not the song you fall into love to. It describes the painful passion of love. You don’t hear many like it.