Vulnerability, Honesty and Social Critiques within the Seratones’ ‘Power’

%22The+Seratones%E2%80%99+%E2%80%9CPower%E2%80%9D+is+truly+an+homage+to+social+progress+and+the+strength+that+can+be+found+in+vulnerably+honest+storytelling.%C2%A0%22%28Courtesy+The+Seratones%29

"The Seratones’ “Power” is truly an homage to social progress and the strength that can be found in vulnerably honest storytelling. "(Courtesy The Seratones)

By Kate Button, Arts Writer, Copy Editor

 

The Seratones are a five-piece group based out of Shreveport, Louisiana that has explored genre lines from punk rock to gospel music filtered through jazz and blues lenses. On “Power,” the band’s sophomore album, lead singer and frontwoman AJ Haynes uses her lyrics to offer unapologetic social critiques alongside the band’s captivating instrumentals that are groovy, soulful, gritty and full of rock ‘n’ roll influence. Not only is Haynes a gospel trained singer and powerhouse vocalist, but she is also an adamant proponent of social justice and reproductive rights. She has spent over 10 years working as a counselor at one of Louisiana’s last remaining abortion clinics. Throughout “Power,” Haynes’ lyrics showcase the strength that can be found in vulnerability. 

 

Track by Track

“Power” opens with “Fear” — a gentle introduction to the album’s piercing social critiques. As Haynes sings, “Fear is the weight of the world / Coming down with no love in return,” she offers a criticism of the apathy and inaction to which many people fall victim, yet these individuals may remain critical of the lack of change within society. Next on the album, however, is the title track in which Haynes repeats, “We take two steps forward, they take one step backward / We  take each step to lift us up higher.” Despite difficulty with achieving social justice, Haynes is committed to this work in order to eventually attain equality. For the whole album, Brad Shultz — the guitarist for Cage the Elephant — is the producer and his influence is especially clear on this track that only grows in its power through an upbeat tempo and guitar rhythms that offer a perfect blend of gritty rock and experimental blues riffs. 

The next tracks on the album, “Heart Attack” and “Gotta Get to Know Ya,” quickly fly past the listener. Haynes’ powerful voice guides each song along to the next, but if you’re able to stop and pay attention to her lyrics, each track grows in its poeticism. On “Heart Attack,” she sings, “Honey, you are heaven sent / On your knees, now say ‘Amen.’” For the first single off the album, “Gotta Get to Know Ya” is just as fiery and passionate as Haynes who sings, “Temperatures are rising, baby’s gonna feel the heat / feel the heat of my fire.” While these songs are full of heart and passion, their meaning goes deeper than the romance that lies on the surface. Through her music, Haynes is able to discuss religion, intimacy, race and gender issues and climate change. 

In addition to the Seratones’ fast-paced anthems, this group also explores the power behind emotional, honest and vulnerable ballads through “Lie to my Face,” “Permission” and the album’s closing track, “Crossfire.” With stripped-back instrumentals and a greater piano presence, Haynes’ vocals stand out and she is able to use her voice as a platform to her political views. This effect is carried beautifully on “Lie to my Face” in which Haynes sings, “I draw the line, you always wanna move it / You jumped the gun just to prove that you could do it.” As Haynes’ voice takes center stage, her comments on intimacy and honesty within relationships have a greater impact and their delivery only compounds her messages. In her life, Haynes has realized, “Sometimes, when you’re in the thick of the struggle, it’s hard to see the possibility of change,” she said, “but you keep striving nonetheless. Some call it faith. I have yet to find the right words, but I’m still trying.”   

 

Final Verdict

The Seratones’ album “Power” strikes a delicate balance between forceful and passionate social critiques to vulnerable remarks about intimate relationships. As I listened to the album, I found the tracks “Power,” “Over You,” “Lie to my Face” and “Sad Boi” to be the most successful in their blend of captivating lyrics and genre-bending instrumentals. The Seratones’ blend of R&B, jazz, blues, rock, soul and punk genres is something truly unique, and their ability to defy a single genre’s bounds further showcases their talents as musicians. 

The Seratones were planned to headline at the State Room on March 3 . However, this show will be rescheduled as Haynes is committed to performing “Power” on the steps of the Supreme Court on March 4. On this date, the court will hear arguments in June Medical Services v. Gee, a case that challenges a Louisiana law to close clinics and limit access to abortion. Haynes’ passion for reproductive rights rings clear through her music and her work with Louisiana’s clinics.

From lyrics calling for equality to instrumentals that demand attention, the Seratones’ “Power” is truly an homage to social progress and the strength that can be found in vulnerably honest storytelling. 

 

[email protected] 

@kateannebutton