Southern rock is one of the best and most underappreciated subgenres of music. Lynryd Skynyrd set the bar high, and many others have been capturing the vibe and feel of southern music. Today, one of the best bands keeping that tradition alive is Blackberry Smoke. They have been mixing rock, country, and blues to create a unique sound for quite a few years now. Recently they released their latest, Holding all The Roses. Their last album, The Whippoorwill, saw the band head more towards a country sound while still retaining their rock roots. With Holding All The Roses, Blackberry Smoke is reminding us that they can still rock, as this album his hard. This is one that is best played LOUD.
Make no mistake about it, this is not a country album. That being said, they never claimed to be a country band. Blackberry Smoke is a rock band with some country elements to their sound. The fact this unabashedly rock album is more country than most of pop-country radio speaks to the state of mainstream country more than anything. There are a few songs that have some country elements. “Lay It All On Me” feels like a modern country rocker with its melody and lyrics, but it still jams. “Randolph County Farewell” is a short instrumental that has a nice country sound to it as well. “Too High” is a straight-up country song and a well done one at that. It is my favorite of the album, naturally. That being said, I love some of the rockers. “Wish In One Hand” is one you have to crank up, but still has a message attached to it. The same goes for “Let Me Help You (Find The Door)”, a protest song that calls out the sameness on modern radio. “Living In the Song” sounds like it was yanked from the 70’s (in a good way). “Rock And Roll Again” could be the theme song to the entire album, as it is a call back to rock and roll (by virtue of a woman in this tune). They even get trippy on “Woman In The Moon” and deep on “No Way Back To Eden”. “Fire In The Hole” is a big, epic finisher to the album, but I could do without some of the language myself. The only song that I wasn’t really crazy about was “Payback’s A Bitch”, but overall the album is very good.
Holding All The Roses may not be “country”, but it certainly fits in the family, playing the role of that long haired uncle of yours that let you skip school and snuck you a beer when your parents weren’t looking. Southern Rock and country have always been intertwined, and Blackberry Smoke keeps that tradition alive. This may be their most complete album to date, and a great representation of their sound. If you get a chance, see this band live. I did before I had even heard of them and they instantly made me a fan based on their great stage presence and killer songs. Holding All The Roses is a great album, check it out!
Standout Tracks: “Wish In One Hand”, “Too High”, “Let Me Help You (Find The Door)”, “Living In The Song”, “Rock And Roll Again”
"Wish In One Hand"
"Living In The Song"