BLACKBERRY SMOKE READY TO STAND WITH THE GREATS OF SOUTHERN ROCK
Blackberry Smoke: 'Like An Arrow'
Release Date: Friday 14th October 2016 (Earache Records)
We've all heard it, haven't we? What's going to happen when all the big rock and Metal bands give up – "...there's no-one big enough to replace Metallica, Iron Maiden and the like when they retire...". The same, however, can't be said for Southern Rock as when the current leaders of the genre finally give up the ghost and retire, Blackberry Smoke are ready and willing to take their rightful place by leading the way for Southern Rock.
Hailing from Atlanta, Georgia, Blackberry Smoke were originally formed back in 2000 and the line-up has barely changed since. The band have already amassed a solid back catalogue with their four previous album releases and their live shows, supporting The Zac Brown Band, ZZ Top and, of course, Lynyrd Skynyrd have allowed them time to grow not only their skills as musicians but also fan base which has increased significantly.
'Like An Arrow' is album number five in the Blackberry Smoke cannon, and it shows the band continuing their well worn formula of Southern style rock tracks crossed with more traditional rock numbers which means this could be their most successful offering yet. 'Let It Burn' is one of these great Southern Rock based numbers and bounces along at a fair rate. There's a great guitar riff wedged in there and the jangle piano from relative newcomer Brandon Still, who joined the line up in 2009, adds a bit of extra texture to the track. It's the type of track that should put a smile on your face, and if it doesn't then this is an early indicator that the rest of the album may not be to your liking.
'What Comes Naturally' is a glorious number but not because of it's intense orchestration or melody but because of the simplicity of the whole piece. A slow and meandering track, it's the simple piano from Still that leads the way whilst the vocals from frontman Charlie Starr are laid back and make it sound like he's actually having a lot of fun. The whoops and hollers from the rest of the band in the background make this a more Country that Southern Rock track, but the band pull it off effortlessly.
'Workin' For A Workin' Man', with its killer guitar riff, is probably the fastest paced number here, but even then, the band are in no rush to get the song over and done. Nothing is rushed about this album as the band are clearly enjoying the laid back approach to their performance. Take 'Sunrise In Texas' for example, with its intro of keyboards and guitar as well as the slightest touch of drums courtesy of Brit Turner at the beginning which is augmented by a thoughtful performance by Starr. However, as the track meanders it's way through the sound builds and builds until it peaks at the guitar solo which is a knockout performance. A hidden gem in the album, certainly – a favourite song? Definitely!
Album closer 'Free On The Wing' is extra special as it features none other than the actual Gregg Allman – one half of (arguably) the first band of Southern Rock, The Allman Brothers. At sixty-eight-years old, Allman still has the skills very much intact and it's nice to see him helping the band out with this number. Some Blackberry Smoke fans will already be familiar with Allman's past and this is a good way of handing the baton over to the next generation – and I have a feeling that when the history of Southern Rock is written, Blackberry Smoke will be standing shoulder to shoulder alongside the likes of The Allman Brothers and Lynyrd Skynyrd. They do, after all, more than deserve it.
You can pre-order 'Like An Arrow' now on limited edition signed CD and coloured vinyl, as well as regular CD, vinyl, and various merch bundles at Amazon right here.
Blackberry Smoke tour the UK in March and here's the full list of dates:
Monday 27th March: Oxford O2 Academy
Tuesday 28th March: London Roundhouse
Wednesday 29th March: Norwich UEA
Friday 31st March: Manchester Academy
Saturday 1st April: Dublin Olympia Theatre
Monday 3rd April; Glasgow Barrowlands
Tuesday 4th April: Newcastle O2 Academy
Thursday 6th April: Bristol O2 Academy
Friday 7th April: Birmingham O2 Academy
Saturday 8th April: Portsmouth Pyramids Centre
Tickets are starting to go on sale now right here. If the venue you want to go to isn't available yet, bookmark this link and keep checking back.
Here's the band's appearance on last week's 'Later... with Jools Holland'.
'Like An Arrow' Tracklist: Waiting For The Thunder
Let It Burn
The Good Life
What Comes Naturally
Running Through Time
Like An Arrow
Ought To Know
Sunrise In Texas
Ain't Gonna Wait
Workin' For A Workin' Man
Believe You Me
Free On The Wing (featuring Gregg Allman)
Blackberry Smoke are:
Charlie Starr – Vocals/Guitar
Paul Jackson – Guitar/Vocals
Richard Turner – Bass Guitar/Vocals
Brandon Still – Keyboards
Brit Turner – Drums