24 June 2014

Blackberry Smoke - The Whippoorwill


Sometimes in the world, album releases are staggered between territories; usually by a few months or so.  This album was originally released in the USA in 2012 were it has been making more in roads than their previous three releases.  However it was only released in Europe in February 2014, by Earache music (again, just like the Rival Sons - Great Western Valkyrie album, I just find it strange the change at Earache).  Whilst I know there can be a delay in releases, two years seems a bit too much; but that is by the by - the UK and Europe finally get the chance to hear the latest Southern Rock band to be making waves in American, they have also been noted as one of the bands to keep track of in 2014. The first thirteen tracks of the album are the original American release, with two live tracks and a bonus song added to the end.  So, is the hype and wait worth it....

Starting the album is "Six Ways To Sunday", this slice of Southern rock bogie is something that is done a million times before, the opening bogie that is coming from this song brings memories of Lynyrd Skynyrd and The Black Crowes (but without The Rolling Stones obsession).  It is a good time song, not original but I don't think that is what this band is about.  "Pretty Little Lies" is another solid rock song which brings to mind images of summer in fields around sunset.  Again, it is pleasant enough it is not exactly memorable.  "Everybody Knows She's Mine" is next, it is the first ballad on the album and you will already know it before you have heard it.  The solo, the keys dancing around the song and the heartfelt lyrics that have always been the corner stone of a Southern rock album; this song tries to make a magic out beans.  "One Horse Town" is another slow number, out of the opening four tracks it is the strongest so far.  A story of growing up in the back of nowhere, it is a tale familiar to many people.  I can see the appeal in regards to this number, but again it is just a decent but unspectacular song.

"Ain't Much Left Of Me" is the fifth track on here, but I would struggle to pick it out of a line up.  I cannot fault anything so far, I always admire people that make music even if it is not to my taste; but whilst I am not expecting originality, I would expect something to be memorable.  But this is like a bad guy from Dr Who, you forget about them after a while if they are not a Dalek or a Cyberman.  "The Whippoorwill" is the next ballad on the record, but it is more of the same to be honest; well played, but once over you will struggle to remember it.  "Lucky Seven" is actually the seventh track on the record as well, the OCD in me loves that sort of thing; shame the song is like the other tracks on here.  Actually, that is a like - it is one of the best songs that is on the album to be honest, but again it is like a blank wall to me.  No matter how well done, it is still blank. Next is "Leave A Scar" which brings up the pace, the bogie is back and it is a much better number again.  I can see why they keep this sort of stuff to a minimum, but I do think they would let the rock out a bit more than they do.

"Crimson Moon" is more serious and business is about to pick up; but it doesn't, it is just as predictable, well played and dull as the others. "Ain't Got The Blues" does nothing to help the cause of the album and I have found myself struggling to remember the song. "Sleeping Dogs" does what it said on the tin, it send the audience to sleep to be honest.  Quite possibly the only song on the main album that was really poor in both feel and playing.  "Shakin' Hands With The Holy Ghost" is much better, it has a fire that was missing in the last song and 80% of the album.  With this number, it at least tries to be exciting and that should have been the end of the album proper.  However, they ended the original release with "Up The Road" and whilst it has obvious send the crowd home with a little bit of easy, it might have been better if they swapped the tracks around.  The bonus track "Country Side Of Life" is throw away and I can see why it was left off the album to begin with; the last two tracks are live versions of "Pretty Little Lie" and "Six Ways To Sunday" and it is probably for the best that they were the tracks chosen to be honest.

The thing with this album is that it is well played, the band does what they do with style and it cannot be said that they are not good players; but I think it is just the equivalent to a music coma.  Now, whilst there has been a recent wave of new Southern Rock bands making waves such as Rival Sons and Black Stone Cherry, I cannot see these guys joining them on that massive stage with links to The Black Crowes, Lynyrd Skynyrd and even the Allman Brothers.  They are just too generic of the genre to make it out of the pack, a little too pedestrian and tame.  They sound better when they rock on this records, but I find it to be a little dull; when I say a little I mean a lot and I think they have a good management team to have been pushed this far.  Maybe it was kept in America for a reason.....

1 out of ten - You really are touching the bottom of the barrel

Top Track - Shakin' Hands With The Holy Ghost

You can purchase the album from Amazon here

You can visit the Blackberry Smoke website here

You can listen to the album on Spotify here

Here is a link for the Deezer users out there

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