Throughout their 20-year history, Blackberry Smoke have played a blend of sounds from southern rock to country and blues, largely inspired by other great southern rock bands like The Allman Brothers, Lynyrd Skynyrd and Drive-By Truckers.
On 28 May, 2021 they released their seventh full-length studio album You Hear Georgia. The album, produced by producer and fellow Georgia-native, Dave Cobb (Jason Isbell, Brandi Carlile), also features guest appearances from country singer Jamey Johnson and prestigious guitarist Warren Haynes (Gov’t Mule).
The album sets off with the inviting riff of Live it Down, an upbeat tune with a touch of funk midway, a perfect lead-in to the album followed by the excellent title track You Hear Georgia, which also was released in February as the first of four singles.
“Lyrically, the song is about the South being misunderstood. It’s obviously a rough and tumble world, and there’s a lot of bad people. But there’s a lot of good people too,” singer Charlie Starr says in a statement. “It started with the idea of how people might have a preconceived opinion of you because of a thick Southern accent, then expanded into the reality of how some people just seem to have such a hard time getting along, thanks to political or religious views, or simply what part of the country you come from.”
Ain’t the Same, a Blackberry Smoke archetypical, is the story of a war veteran who can’t cope after returning home, turning instead to alcohol and abusive anger. “It’s the story of a young soldier going from one battlefield overseas to another kind of battlefield at home, and basically being forced to deal with it alone.” (Charlie Starr)
One of the best songs of the album is the rocker All Rise Again, co-written with Govt Mule’s Warren Haynes, who is also seen in the official video laying down his vocal tracks and guitar solo. This song features a great beat and some searing guitar action from Haynes, particularly in the instrumental break.
I really like this album. For me there was always a danger that the band would end up too country and although there are some country-esque songs included (Old Enough to Know and Lonesome for a Livin’), there are also plenty of groovy rhythms and amped-up blues guitars for fans who, like me, like the rockier and bluesier aspects of the band. The album was recorded live in just ten days, and it helped to capture the band’s energy that’s so evident when you see them live.
So far I’ve seen Blackberry Smoke two times live (read the latest concert review here) and I hope I get a chance to see them again. They are currently touring in the US and recently a European tour, starting in February 2022, was announced. Tickets are sold with the hopes that the ongoing pandemic will be under control by that time.
You Hear Georgia Track list:
- Live It Down
- You Hear Georgia
- Hey Delilah
- Ain’t the Same
- Lonesome for a Livin’ (feat Jamey Johnson)
- All Rise Again (feat Warren Haynes)
- Old Enough to Know
- All over the Road
- Old Scarecrow