BLACKBERRY SMOKE – The Whippoorwill

Blackberry Smoke - The WhippoorwillSouthern rock. I guess I’m not alone in thinking of bands like Lynyrd Skynyrd or The Allman Brothers when that term comes up. Me, I was never a fan of that kind of music and therefore I can find it hard sometimes to be objective about bands in that genre. But just like any other genre, there are bad artists and there are good ones and once in a while there is the odd band in a genre that you usually don’t like, that comes around and kicks up some dust.

Blackberry Smoke is such a band. When I first heard of them, I dismissed them as just another boring Southern rock band, but for some reason I decided to give their last album Little Piece Of Dixie a chance. That turned out to be a good move because I dug it immediately. Why I got into Blackberry Smoke and not any other Southern rock band, except Blackfoot, only heaven knows, but my guess is that it is as simple as that I just liked the songs. That meant, of course, that I was expecting much from their new album!  In my mind, I believe that it’s pretty hard to develop a lot and still keep on playing this kind of music as I feel that the genre is quite limiting.  There is only so much you can do with it. That’s why it’s important for Southern rock bands to make as many changes as they can, but in small ways, if they want to keep being labeled as Southern rock.

Blackberry Smoke has done just that. The sound is still very similar to their earlier work, but this time they sound a bit heavier and darker than before. At the same time, the production is more varied and a bit cleaner and smoother. I guess the thought of broadening their sound enough to reach out to a bigger audience has popped up inside their heads. But this is only a good thing. Their more commercial touch only does them good, and it’s not like they have gone all AOR or anything like it.  The majority of their Southern rock sound is still what the band builds their sound on. “Six Ways To Sunday” is a very good classic Southern rocker, “Everybody Knows She’s Mine” is a great redneck melodic rocker, “One Horse Town” is an uptempo half ballad that goes into Lynyrd Skynyrd territory, the title track is a great slow and bluesy country rock ballad and “Lucky Seven” is a brilliant catchy pop rocker that Skynyrd would sell their souls to write. Then there is “Leave A Scar”, a really great hard rock song with just a little Southern vibe. And a banjo!!! Sounds very cool and a bit odd. The banjo is a bit unexpected on a song like this and is something you might have expected on a more ordinary Southern rock song. “Crimson Moon” is fantastic, a heavy, 70’s hard rock song. Turns out that this band is really good at those as well.

Blackberry Smoke have with this album released yet another great record. The band is tight as a camel’s arse in a sandstorm, the production is great and there are no bad songs on this album. Even if Southern rock isn’t really your case of beer, check this lot out anyway. You might be in for a surprise. I know I was and if I can dig a band like this, then my guess is that anyone can. Let’s rock!

Jon Wilmenius (8/10)

Tracklist:

1. Six Ways To Sunday
2. Pretty Little Lie
3. Everybody Knows She’s Mine
4. One Horse Town
5. Ain’t Much Left Of Me
6. The Whippoorwill
7. Lucky Seven
8. Leave A Scar
9. Crimson Moon
10. Ain’t Got The Blues
11. Sleeping Dogs
12. Shakin’ Hands With The Holy Ghost
13. Up The Road

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