Black Stone Cherry Finds Deep Grooves In Kentucky
Lucky Five the saying goes. It is not luck that makes Black Stone Cherry’s fifth studio album, Kentucky such a great listen. The combination of scintillating guitar, deep rhythms setting the groove for the lyrics to jump out of the recording the songs are captivatingly energised. The choice of using the band’s home state reflecting going back deep into the roots that is the heart and soul of the band. They are back in the local Barrick Studio the home of their debut eight years ago. Frontman/guitarist Chris Robertson comments “We are beyond excited to bring ‘Kentucky‘ to you. Since the release of our debut, we have wanted to go back to the studio where it all began and it finally happened! The original studio owner/engineer, all of the great equipment and BLACK STONE CHERRY have been reunited for what I feel has been the most unique album we’ve ever made. We took it back to where it started and something magical happened! These new songs are the heart and soul of who we were in 2006 and who we’ve become. There is something very special about these songs and I cannot wait for y’all to feel them!” The BSC have travelled thousands of miles, played a million chords as they travel back home the quartet of guitarists Chris Robertson and Ben Wells, bassist Jon Lawhon and drummer John Fred Young are hungry to deliver a studio album reflecting emotions and experiences.
Having listened to Kentucky, Chris is right this is has a feel and tone that makes Kentucky stand out from the crowd. This is an album with deep dark tone, bucket loads of attitude and barely contained aggression. The whole album has a natural fluidity, nothing is over produced. The music has an intense focus but you never quite know where the music and lyrics are taking you; a studio album with a spark of live intuitive music.
Opening with The Way of Your Future, the vibe is grungy there is a heaviness in the guitar chords this is dark. The words match unravelling a dystopian view of the future, a cynical look at politics and the world as they demand we take back control and create a more positive future. A look at the future and now a fast tempo for In Our Dreams and the words do no so much as gently caress the chords they actually challenge the instruments to be the dominant force as they sing ‘Inside these desperate times’. This is metal that will fill the room with interesting melodic structure and form. Co-written by Bob Larlette ( Alice Cooper, Seether, Rob Zombie etc.) the song address the chaos and danger of a world full of inequality. The tone and tempo eases with Shakin’ My Cage rock with a southern vibe with a bad moon rising and “Born on the bayou, raised by the sand, She’s my Medusa, I’m stone where I stand”. The force throughout Kentucky is basic, raw primeval the guitars snarl the drums hurl out a beat and the bass glues it all together. The album is not all meaty rock there are influences of grooves multi-faceted and definitely funky on Soul Machine. The horns add another textural layer with the backing singers reinforcing the power of soulful voices. This brassy affair from Jonas Butler and Ryan Stiles blows out the force in War. Black Stone Cherry covers a Motown classic, War fits into the tone and thematic of the album and sounds as fresh today as they rock up the soul vibe. Every album should have a song with strong chorus and anthem we can pick up and sing when the band hits town with a live show. Long Ride fits the bill perfectly. The opening is melodic keys and vocals that have a gruff melancholy edge and then as music and vocals open up this is the anthem that will be the ear-worm for hours after listening. The opening of Rescue Me lulls you into what is a gospel number for a few seconds and then the colour changes and we have a full on BSC assault this is rock with attitude and no-one needs rescuing from this track. The musical colour and texture changes as the backing singers take momentary control once again then it is back to gigantic riffs. This is followed by fuzzy rock, with vocal distortions and you get that warm Feelin’ Fuzzy feel as the music tingles down your spine and stirs up your emotions. The penultimate track Born To Die is a story that unfolds through lyrics that once again is dominating Black Stone Cherry’s rock. The music is hard, loud and attention seeking but the core of the album is the root of every song – the words. Closing the album The Rambler takes the journey to a different place the longest track opening with acoustic reflective and personal. This has strong melody and co-written with former Shinedown guitarist Jasin Todd. Being away from home playing your music is tough and the country violin adds the tears of distance. It is about heartbreak as Young says; “We all knew the song was special, and when we were in the studio writing it Chris lost his grandpa, and he got pretty emotional when he was putting his vocal on it. It’s a really wonderful song.” Ending the album The Rambler connects and makes sense of the importance of returning to the studio once again and the naming this album Kentucky. Home and heart will always connect emotionally on so many levels.
The energy flows in a studio album that has a live, raw edgy feel and at the same time everything has its place and has been considered. Kentucky has a flow, no songs feel forced or put in as a filler this is Black Stone Cherry entertaining through the medium of brilliant rock grinding, demanding and immensely listenable.
Bluesdoodles gives this CD TEN doodle paws out of TEN ….
Kentuckey – Black Stone cherry – Mascot Label Group
- The Way Of The Future
- In Our Dreams
- Shakin’ My Cage
- Soul Machine
- Long ride
- Cheaper To Drink Alone
- Rescue Me
- Feelin’ Fuzzy
- Darkest Secret
- Born To Die
- The Rambler