Fuzzed-up country vibe pulls you straight into the action on Blackberry Smoke’s latest album You Hear Georgia, follows the release of 2018’s Find A Light, which debuted as the best-selling Country and Americana/Folk album in the US. The clue in the title this is an album that pays home to the bands roots firmly grounded in Georgia.
Opening with Live It Down, the layers of sound and rollicking piano creating a compelling beat and chorus. As you listen you want to feel the heat of the crowd surround with fans hands held high as singing the chorus. But wait sit and take the time to listen to the scorching, hard hitting lyrics that unfold between the cliches.
Leading into the title track, You Hear Georgia a powerful country-rock song, the guitar is hot, and the lead break picks up the frustrations of being misunderstood before Charlie’s vocals states it clearly that there needs to be a new harmony. Charlie’s words
“Lyrically, the song is about the South being misunderstood. It is obviously a rough and tumble world, and there’s a lot of bad people, but there’s a lot of good people too. It started with the idea of how people might have a pre-conceived 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.”
The mood changes with Hey Delilah, The Black Betty’s backing vocals add to this track which flows with an element of mischievous fun. The grooves are funky, and this is a Saturday night party song. Followed on with a change of tempo with Ain’t The Same. A reflective song of how things despite not really changing when you return things are different. The past is a mirage wrapped in melodic country vibe the tambourine jangles cleverly picking up on the nervous energy when you realise staying is not an option.
Lonesome For Livin’ features Jamey Johnson on vocals flow with the pedal steel guitar as he sings tenderly and then adding a gruffer edge. Country honky-tonk captured in four-minutes. All Rise Again is epic co-written with Warren Haynes (Gov’t Mule) the added dimension of his distinctive voice and trade make Blues-jam solo, this is a song full of energy, clever percussive beat and four minutes is just too short, you are left uplifted and wanting it to never end.
Old Enough To Know, acoustic, folky, introspective is the perfect foil to the preceding track. The shortest track is a bittersweet journey and adds a different tonal shade to the collection of songs gathered on You Hear Georgia. Tempo picks up with Morningside, the mix of guitar, keys and percussion drives the song on, as you look beyond the here and now, to look outwards and keep moving. As Morningside takes on a mental road-trip to takes us beyond the dark and into the morning light.
Penultimate track ‘All Over the Road’ is a perfect partner when driving through day or nigh t this is high octane Blackberry Smoke, delivery foot-tapping music staring to you veins. The album closes out with Old Scarecrow co-written Rickey Medlocke (Lynyrd Skynyrd) opening as a slower acoustic number as a story unfolds about work never being done the tempo grows and the guitar sings as it picks up vibrant energy. This song a celebration to being older and being set in your ways.
Once again, the band have captured a mood that goes beyond Georgia as the world changes with everyone affected by the long days of living in the midst if a pandemic. Thank you once again for the joyous, distinctive country-rock vibe you play for our pleasure.
The ten new tracks that perfectly for You Hear Georgia have a lively freshness capturing the speed of the album’s creation as the recorded live in the floor over the 10 days at Nashville’s famed RCA Studio A, Cobb’s home base since 2016.
Bluesdoodles Rating: 5 Doodle paws – Once again Blackberry Smoke have dished up an album that delights in a celebration of Country-rock, strong lyrics, hot guitar licks and a mash up of grooves to keep you interested from the first song to the last and then on repeat.
1. Live It Down
2. You Hear Georgia
3. Hey Delilah
4. Ain’t The Same
5. Lonesome For A Livin’ (feat. Jamey Johnson)
6. All Rise Again (feat. Warren Haynes)
7. Old Enough To Know
9. All Over The Road
10. Old Scarecrow
Charlie Starr co-wrote most of the album’s songs with friends, including current Lynyrd Skynyrd member Rickey Medlocke (‘Old Scarecrow’) and Gov’t Mule’s Warren Haynes (‘All Rise Again’), as well as two frequent collaborators, Four Horsemen guitarist Dave Lizmi, and ex-Buckcherry member Keith Nelson.
BLACKBERRY SMOKE are:
Charlie Starr – vocalist/lead guitarist
Paul Jackson – guitarist/vocalist
Richard Turner – bassist/vocalist
Brit Turner – drummer
Brandon Still – keyboardist
Jamey Johnson (Lonesome For A Livin’)
Warren Haynes (All Rise Again)
Background vocals from The Black Bettys
Produced by Dave Cobb
You Hear Georgia, out on 28 May via 3 Legged Records/Thirty Tigers.