Band: Blackberry Smoke
Album: Find a Light
Release Date: 6th April, 2018
Label: Earache Records
Review by Sean
People who know me, know I fucking love this band. They’re absolutely one of my all time favourite bands, and I listen to them almost constantly. So to be given the opportunity to hear the album before it was released, and to review it, there was no hesitation. Honestly though, I had no idea what I was hoping for. Something more like their early stuff? Something like ‘The Whippoorwhill’? Something bigger, like an arena filling sound? It’s tough. But, I gave it a couple of listens, without an eye on reviewing it, just to soak it in, and honestly, it’s kind of a mix of everything I wondered above. So, let’s talk about that mix, shall we?
We kick things off with ‘Flesh and Bone’, the leading single from the album. It’s an odd one. It’s a weird opener from a Southern rock band, because, honestly it sort of sounds like an Alice in Chains track, if the band decided to spend some time listening to nothing but Southern Rock. Not that the whole track has that feel, but some of it, particularly the verses.A side from that note, it’s actually a powerful opener. It lets you know just what the band are about, what they offer, and sets the whole album up just right. It’s a blend of both sounds the band have given in the past, and it works wonders.
‘Run Away From It All’ has quite an Oasis sound here. Very odd, but oddly good. It’s weird to hear that sort of guitar without hearing that familiar Mancunian whine in the vocals, but it turns out the Americans can do this style just as well as we can. It’ll be a good one to hear live, and honestly, could play well on the radio too.
But, onto ‘The Crooked Kind’. It’s the first one that’s more fully original, and it’s an arse kicker. A full on Southern rock number, and a fun one. I have to say, I thoroughly enjoy just how great a lyricist Charlie Starr is. He has a way with words that a lot of others just don’t, and delivered with his Southern voice makes the songs come across as homespun wisdom from years gone by. It’s excellent.
‘Medicate My Mind’ is a slower song, and like a lot of songs by the band, it’s about the self. It’s interesting when you think about that point, because when you listen to the songs, or at least when I do, you look for a way to make songs relatable, and by making a lot of songs about the self, it helps the listener find that way to make it relatable. The fact that this one is about “self medication” is neither here nor there…..
‘I’ve Got This Song’ is more of a proper slow song, very chilled, and the obligatory “I don’t have much, but I have “X” type of song that BBS love to put on each album. I actually love hearing
these every album, because at heart I’m a downtrodden depressed fucker, and songs like this remind me that while I don’t have much going for me in life, things could be much worse, and really, I’ve got what I really need already. Like I said just above, it’s an amazing talent that makes stuff like this super relatable to many, and I’ll call this one my half favourite of the entire album. Half because if I’m in a fired up mood, it won’t get a look in, but if I’m feeling down, this will be a song that I play ad nauseum.
Another one about being downtrodden and feeling hard done by, this one is ‘Best Seat in the House’, though not as sad sounding as the last one. This one is more about how you can fix your outlook that you had in the last one. Maybe I wouldn’t have put these two back to back though, despite this one having a little bit of venom in it, while trying to be uplifting, even if it is the other side of the coin to the previous song. Maybe a one song gap, just to rouse people up and get them cheery again.
Speaking of which…‘I’ll Keep Ramblin” is a very “get up and dance” song. It’s a toe tapping, head nodding number, and maybe you could even throw in a few redneck bar shouts here and there. It’s a song to play in the bar to get people talking, drinking, and having a good time. This one is a definite favourite song contender, and I like the gospel choir too. It’s a bit of a nod to the fact that they’re trying to go for a bigger sound, and it works well with the song.
‘Lord Strike Me Dead’ is a song that sounds more like the older Blackberry Smoke, with organs allover the sound to boot. There’s a choir sound to the chorus again, and it’s just a good sounding tune, man. It could easily have appeared on ‘The Whippoorwhill’ it sounds that similar. It’s a nice throwback and it’s another album favourite.
‘Let Me Down Easy’ is up next, and honestly, this one sounds a little like a happier “Civil Wars” song. An odd thing to say, as they never really dealt in happy, but the guest spot from Amanda Shires, herself an accomplished musician in her own right, works well. It’s a nice song, and could easily be something you’d hear on a radio. In fact, I have no doubts that in certain areas of the US, it’s getting daily airplay already. This one is my favourite on the whole album, because while I love the fun ones, the downtrodden ones, the fiery ones, at heart I’m a redneck through and through, and the Country edge this song has is just perfect for me.
‘Nobody Gives A Damn’ is sort of a “fuck you” song. It’s more about basically how you shouldn’t think you’re hot shit, when the reality is no one gives a shit about your attention seeking ways.
It’s certainly a fun one, and another favourite contender. It oddly reminds me of the Coheed and Cambria song ‘You Got Spirit Kid’, which deals with a similar topic. It’s also somewhat of an abrupt song too, which helps it send a pointed message.
I know I’ve said this three times already not including my ACTUAL pick, but this one is another favourite contender. In fairness, I could almost say this about the entire album, but I like this one a lot. It’s big sounding, defiant, and rousing. It’s called ‘Till The Wheels Fall Off’, and it’s another one about not giving up, calling it quits just because things aren’t going all your way right now. It’s songs like this that make me love the band. I love a lot of their stuff, but this stuff really hits home for me, and I’m sure for many others as well.
‘Mother Mountain’ is a softer song, chilled, you could even say. Featuring The Wood Brothers, an American folk trio who add to the sound on this one it is a fitting album closer after the journey we’ve been on over the course of the album, and a nice little sort of “welcome home” track, to guide you back into reality, to get you on with your day. It’s also a little bit of a refreshing change, after the final track on the previous album clocked in at around eleven minutes long. It’s a nice short goodbye that leaves you happy, and wanting more.
All in all, the album had a good momentum to it. It started on a decent pace, not too quick, not too heavy, built things up a bit, slowed them back down, gave us a bit of energy toward the end, then ended with a relaxing goodbye. It was damn near perfect. All I’d change, is to not have ‘I’ve Got This Song’ and ‘Best Seat…’ back to back, but other than that I can’t fault it.
Another album of the year contender. Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m off to listen to nothing but these guys for the next week. (Okay, and Collibus too).
01. Flesh and Bone
02. Run Away From It All
03. The Crooked Kind
04. Medicate My Mind
05. I’ve Got This Song
06. Best Seat in the House
07. I’ll Keep Ramblin’ feat. Robert Randolph
08. Seems So Far
09. Lord Strike Me Dead
10. Let Me Down Easy feat. Amanda Shires
11. Nobody Gives a Damn
12. Till the Wheels Fall Off
13. Mother Mountain feat. the Wood Bros
Visit the band on Facebook: www.facebook.com/BlackberrySmoke
Official website: www.blackberrysmoke.com