RUSHONROCK RECORD OF THE WEEK: BLACKBERRY SMOKE
Blackberry Smoke – Like An Arrow (Earache)
Genre: Country/Southern Rock
Limited Edition Gatefold Double Green Vinyl With Signed Insert
Certain bands demand a more thorough appraisal – the kind that can only be comfortably achieved in one sitting on two discs of heavy duty coloured wax. Blackberry Smoke are one of those bands.
An even split of three songs per side make listening to Like An Arrow more of a musical event than a mere listening diversion. Each trip to the turntable represents the closure of one chapter and the opening of the next. It’s not as if the band has crafted the track listing to reflect Like An Arrow’s double vinyl issue but each segment possesses an artistic life all of its own.
Opener Waiting For The Thunder is perfect for ushering in one of 2016’s most anticipated releases but it’s a little misleading. One of the heavier tunes here it doesn’t pre-empt a record built on bombast – Like An Arrow is far more subtle than that and allows Blackberry Smoke to explore their softer side.
Let It Burn could easily prompt calls for a Georgia Satellites reunion – its bar room rock and roll refrain harking back to classic Dan Baird. Charlie Starr might evoke a long lost era where the simple things in life sufficed but there’s nothing simple where the frontman’s versatility is concerned.
What Comes Naturally is Blackberry Smoke in a nutshell. Kicking off side two with country-flavoured honky tonk, it’s the sound of a band comfortable in its own skin and unafraid to lean on tradition. Burning Through Time is heavy on the 70s style while the title track is a radio rock anthem that’s made for the live arena.
What’s brilliant about Blackberry Smoke is their slow-burning appeal. Still new to so many UK fans, Like An Arrow is like a Best Of – Starr and co. using all of their experience to showcase a truly inspirational songwriting team.
Ain’t Gonna Wait (the conclusion to side three) is rich in heartwarming Americana but flip the vinyl and Workin’ For A Workin’ Man puts the rock into Southern Rock. Introducing Gregg Allman on the final track is typical of a band that values authenticity and respect above all.
Blackberry Smoke have never sounded better. Like an arrow, this record hits the target and scores a perfect 10. Sensational.
RUSHONROCK RATED: 10/10 Smoking
I’m a journalist specialising in sport and rock music. Can’t play either so I write about them instead.