BLACK STONE CHERRY – KENTUCKY (2016)
Release Date: 1st April 2016
℗ 2016 Mascot Music
- 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
An aptly titled album indeed from Black Stone Cherry as the blistering bluegrass rock feel takes hold from the very outset. You will feel the urge to reach for the Jim Beam to accompany this equally superbly blended mix of heavy rock and sour mash soul. To our fortune we have not had to endure the mandatory four year fermentation since Magic Mountain, but perhaps the regimen requires review because Black Stone Cherry have flavoured most favourably in only two years. But I must withdraw from the bourbon reference lest ye declare the words herein are influence by alternate medium than the superb finery laying in wait for you listening pleasure. And ‘Kentucky’ is hands down a pleasurable experience throughout.
The way of the future opens in a feedback fueled swagger leaving you wondering where we are heading, but almost as fast as that thought lurches forward, the tremendous groove of Black Stone Cherry has you firmly in its grasp. The melodic undertow, flooded with hooks a plenty has you swaying symphonically and moshing all at the same time. We are helpless to resist the timely nods of groove approval as this magnificent sound takes you in all manner of directions. And the riffage…Oh the riffs…resonate like a bluesy harmonica section, but with all the feel of a Kentucky back water barn burner. The opener lifts the roof, but in that sensational style that Black Stone Cherry own outright.
In Our Dreams again misdirects in opening before gritting it up, then ebbs and flows like a tidal regime. One minute you’re moshing in furious harmony and the next swaying to and fro with lighter held aloft, but the track blends so beautify, right up to its swelling finale. Just sensational.
Shakin’ My Cage flows gently by as though you are perched on both banks of Grand Rivers but currents with equal grandeur. As Soul Machine follows in splendiferous style, I can’t help but reflect of how Black Stone Cherry have always produced their very own sound, but with this album, refined it into an unprecedented collection of magnificent works. The backing vocal accompaniment and horn section take this track to a tremendously powerful homogenisation of rock and soul. I can just hear our own Jimmy Barnes begging to get involved with that classic.
Long Ride provides an additional dimension to this album via melancholic reflection, but by no means lacking in the rock staple. One of those classic ballads once an essential element of classic albums. A most welcome and fitting reflection to their lighter capabilities.
Look out Motown as War is delivered in an utterly magnificent fashion stamped with all the grit of BSC, but very loyal to the original protagonists in the Temptations. Gutsy and powerful with contemporary styling and killer solo, but with, what would seem, a vocal homage to the tracks origins. Wow…I could spin this all night.
The track sequence has been utterly nailed to perfection. War is backed by Hangman which draws us back to the true Black Stone Cherry sound. Gutsy, gutsy stuff.
Cheaper To Drink Alone, Rescue Me and Feelin’ Fuzzy are all sensational tracks in their own right, but their placement, and total album sequence make you realise how each track on this entire recording possess their own identity. Inherently Black Stone Cherry, but this superlative album really brings out their style and mastery of genre blending, to produce a very diverse, and brilliantly executed collection.
And they just keep on delivering with Darkest Secret, undoubtedly my favourite for a range of reasons, but primarily because it is thoroughly Black Stone Cherry. Fine, refined, and pure, unadulterated excellence. Their essence and signature captured in purest form. Bravura.
Born To Die is raw and crisp, while blended to harmonious perfection. Delivering the message loud and clean and with that BSC instrumental restraint and control allowing Chris Robertson’s voice to really shine. Then the solos break loose, flowing thick and fast. Brilliant. Percussive perfection and further guitar finery. C’mon? This album just can’t be this sensational! But yes. It just is.
The Rambler doubtless pays respects to the group’s musical roots, fiddles and all. ‘A million miles from Kentucky, but I will always be around’ kind of says it all, right? A beautiful way to end this splendiferous collection.
This magnificent collection is, at least in my mind, Black Stone Cherry’s finest work of self-reflection, refinement and a prominent exposition of their superior musical capabilities. From lyrical content, to technical instrumental skill, this work is a truly significant benchmark for the band. One of those rare albums that makes you proud to own it. One you spin at a gathering of musically ill-informed people who subsequently enquire in excited glee, ‘who the FUCK is that?’ You proudly bless all with your superior knowledge and musical taste in declaring…’why that’s Black Stone Cherry, and at their finest’.
Wow. Just wow.