Friday, September 05, 2014

add 1117 Blackberry Smoke

On their sophomore full-length CD, Little Piece of Dixie, the five members of Blackberry Smoke (singer/guitarist Charlie Starr, guitarist/singer Paul Jackson, bassist/singer Richard Turner, keyboardist Brandon Still, and drummer Brit Turner) play Southern rock in the Lynyrd Skynyrd tradition. Starr has a strong, twangy voice, and he and Jackson keep the heavy riffs coming in country-rock songs extolling the virtues of a Southern, blue-collar man's blowing off steam by drinking, driving around, and maybe enjoying a little female companionship. Typical of the material is "Bottom of This," in which a man gets home from work and asks to be allowed to at least have one beer before he has to engage domestic problems or talk politics. Although the band is much closer to rock than outlaw country, the album has a clear Nashville leaning, produced by Dann Huff and Justin Niebank, and featuring some formula Music City songwriting. At the end, Blackberry Smoke try for an anthem with "Freedom Song," another paean to hitting the road in the pickup truck and putting a cowboy boot to the gas pedal in search of escape from a workingman's troubles. But when Starr declares his desire to "sing along to my freedom song" on the radio as the guitars play a familiar twin-lead part, it seems likely that the song he really has in mind is Skynyrd's "Free Bird," not something by his own band.


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