Veteran southern rock band Blackberry Smoke is one of the leading names within the southern rock community today. Over the course of now 18 years, the Atlanta, Georgia-based band has earned that title by growing and changing with each of its now six full-length studio recordings. That growth and change has come at the band’s own pace, and has resulted in each of the band’s albums being its own special and impressive offering. Its latest album, Find A Light is no exception to that rule. Released April 6 – only a couple of weeks ago – this 13-song, 53-minute record will easily appeal to not only Blackberry Smoke’s fans but fans of ZZ Top, Lynyrd Skynyrd, Bob Dylan, Reckless Kelly and other similar acts, at least musically. Lyrically, it will just as easily reach a wider range of audiences. This is proven right from the album’s outset in the form of ‘Flesh and Bone.’ This song will be discussed shortly. ‘I’ve Got This Song,’ which comes later in the album’s run, does just as much to show the significance of this album. It will be discussed later. ‘Nobody Gives A Damn’ does its own part to show why Find A Light is another impressive offering from Blackberry Smoke, yet is hardly the last of the songs included in this album that proves its enjoyment. The seeming social commentary presented in ‘Lord Strike Me Dead,’ the old school southern rock vibe and optimistic message of ‘I’ll Keep Ramblin’’ and the combined gentle, flowing arrangement and simple message of ‘Mother Mountain’ – the album’s closer – adds even more to the album’s enjoyment. Between these works, the pieces more directly noted here and even those not discussed, it goes without saying that the whole of the album’s songs makes Find A Light some of the band’s best work to date, an album that shines bright among this year’s rock and country fields.
Blackberry Smoke’s sixth full-length studio recording Find A Light is a shining new effort from the veteran southern rock outfit. That is because it takes the successes of its past albums and, rather than rehashing them, uses them to grow and change once again. The result is an album that is one of Blackberry Smoke’s best offerings to date. This is proven right from the album’s outset in the form of ‘Flesh And Bone.’ Musically speaking, this bluesy arrangement easily lends itself to comparisons to works from ZZ Top and Jeff Beck among others. Of course that is just this critic’s own interpretation. Other listeners might just as easily make other comparisons. Lyrically speaking, this song is just as certain to keep listeners engaged as its musical arrangement is to keep them entertained and engaged. Front man Charlie Starr sings here, “Tie my two hands behind me/Close my ears and my eyes/I just might need some shelter/From these things I desire/Right in front of me/All that I wanna see/Oh, help me baby/Is this how it’s gotta be/Will it all be the end of me/Everything’s so good and so bad/Temptation all you can stand/Everything so right and so wrong/What can I do/I’m just flesh and bone.” This lead verse seems to be someone saying he is trying to be the best that he can be despite being “just flesh and bone.” It’s an interesting statement, and is just one of the song’s verses sure to engage listeners. He goes on to sing in the song’s second verse, “It’s a curse or a blessing/Sometimes I can’t tell/Is it just like they teach us/That we’ll send you to hell/What will it do to me/The first little bit is free/Oh, help me baby/Set me/Watch me fall/I want a taste of it all/Everything’s so good and so bad/Temptation all you can stand/Everything’s so right and so wrong/What can I do/I’m just flesh and bone.” Even more so here, the song’s subject is posing some deep existential questions; questions that so many people ask yet generally aren’t moved to discuss because of their depth. Overall, it seems with these verses that Starr is highlighting one of the key matters of being human – questioning everything around us. What’s interesting about it is the manner in which he does this. He poses the topic in a fashion that makes it both interesting and accessible to the everyday listener. The song’s musical arrangement serves to make add to that interest and accessibility. When this is considered alongside the depth of the song’s lyrical content, the whole of these two elements makes easy to see why this song is so critical to the album’s whole. It shows right from the albums’ outset the band’s continued growth both musically and lyrically. That growth continues to be shown in plenty of different ways from here, keeping the album fresh and interesting. This is proven later in the album in the form of the moving, contemplative ‘I’ve Got This Song.’
In regards to its musical arrangement, ‘I’ve Got This Song’ wastes no time lending itself to comparisons to works from so many country music acts what with the twang of its guitar and subtle violin line. Starr’s vocal delivery added to that mix strengthens that pure country music comparison. In all honesty, one could take that whole and compare it to songs from the likes of Alan Jackson, Tim McGraw, and other similar famed country names. That in itself makes this song interesting in its own right. The song’s lyrical content offers its own share of interest. Starr sings in melancholy fashion here, “These days/The good days/Are fewer and father between/Sometimes, the hard time’s a shadow on my sky blue dream/I don’t have much if you look through the eyes of the world/Open me up and you might find just one shining pearl/I’ve got this song/A story to tell about the good times and bad times/heaven and hell/Well it might not be pretty/Or have much to say/But it’s all I’ve got left at the end of the day/The one thing they can’t take away/I’ve got this song.” This is a really moving statement. It comes across as stressing the importance of appreciating the little things that we have in life. This is inferred as Starr sings, “It’s all I’ve got left at the end of the day/The one thing they can’t take away/I’ve got this song.” It’s a statement that could so easily inspire so many listeners. He goes on to sing in the song’s second verse, “I’ve got a short list of good friends I can count on to answer my call/And the long list of bad things I might not be proud of at all/Show me a man who hasn’t yet learned how to fall/There is a man who doesn’t know much yet at all/I’ve got this song/A story to tell about the good times and bad times/Heaven and Hell/It might not be pretty/or have much to say/But it’s all that I got left at the end of the day/The one thing they can’t take away/I’ve got this song.” Again, the message of appreciating life’s little things is here. In this case it is heightened by Starr singing about “a man who hasn’t yet learned how to fall.” He is saying here that yes, he’s got bad things in his life, but he’s learned from them and learned, in turn, to appreciate the simple things. It’s just such a moving message. When that message is coupled with the song’s equally heartfelt musical arrangement, the whole of those two elements makes this song another of this album’s strongest points. That strength, in turn, serves to show in its own way why FAL is another success for Blackberry Smoke. Even with this in mind, it is not the last of the album’s strong points. ‘Nobody Gives A Damn’ is one more of the album’s strong points.
‘Nobody Gives A Damn’ comes late in FAL’s run. This song proves to be another of the album’s high points in part through its musical arrangement, which wastes no time lending itself to comparisons with Lynyrd Skynyrd’s best works. To a lesser extent, one could even argue that this arrangement could be compared to Reckless Kelly’s best compositions, too. It’s a fun, up-tempo piece that will instantly grab listeners’ attention and keep it right to the song’s end. The positive vibes in the song’s musical arrangement expertly compliment the song’s no nonsense lyrical content to show even more why this song is a standout work. In regards to the song’s lyrical content, the song comes across as a searing indictment of those people who think everything is all about themselves. No, it’s not the first time that any popular music act has ever gone this route, lyrically speaking. Regardless, it’s still an enjoyable approach here. Starr addresses those self-centered figures here, singing, “You can make something out of nothing my friend/Make yourself a little bit of money to spend/You can sing a song everybody knows/You can walk in with the skinniest girl/You can carve your initials all over the world/Put on the biggest rock and roll pose/What are you, some kind of hero/Doing everything that you can/you think that everybody’s watching, but nobody gives a damn.” Starr’s indictment of those figures is just as searing in the song’s second verse. He sings here, “You can walk a wire and you don’t need a mitt/You’re the best damn thing that they haven’t seen yet/Give ‘em a chance to fall in love with you/You can sing a tune to a million or two/Have your name at the top of a list of who’s who/It don’t mean nothing when the rent is due.” He adds in the chorus this time, “Nobody cares what you do or say/They’ll forget about you anyway/Don’t you worry, it’s a waste of time/Take your number and get back in line.” Everybody knows or has known figures such as the one(s) being addressed here. It makes the song easily accessible and relatable for listeners. Starr’s direct statement, versus the metaphorical beating around the bush that he could have otherwise done, strengthens the song even more. It really makes the song stand out so clearly among the album’s entries. Keeping in mind all of this, the song serves in its own way to prove the strength of FAL, too. When it is joined with the equally strong ‘I’ve Got This Song’ and ‘Flesh And Bone,’ these three songs do plenty to show exactly why Blackberry Smoke has succeeded again with this album. Of course this trio is only a small portion of what makes FAL another success for the band. The musical and lyrical content exhibited in ‘Lord Strike Me Dead,’ ‘I’ll Keep Ramblin’’ and ‘Mother Mountain’ does just as much to show what makes this album so strong. When all of these songs are joined with the compositions not noted here, the whole of the album proves to be a shining new offering from Blackberry Smoke, and a work that shows even more why this band is one of southern rock’s elite acts right now.
Find A Light, the latest full-length studio recording from Blackberry Smoke, is a shining (yes, this critic went that cheesy route) new offering from the veteran southern rock outfit. That is because of the growth that is exhibited from start to end. That growth is exhibited in a variety of different musical arrangements throughout; arrangements that show comparisons to top names from country and southern rock past and present. The album’s relateable and at times inspiring lyrical themes show just as much growth here as the album’s musical arrangements. That musical and lyrical growth makes the album, from start to finish, a work that is certain to keep listeners engaged and entertained completely. That maintained engagement and entertainment will have listeners agreeing to the album’s strength, and that Blackberry Smoke has shown through those strengths once again why it is among country and southern rock’s elite acts. Find A Light is available now in stores and online. More information on the album is available online now along with all of the band’s latest news and more at:
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