Following on from the success of 2016’s critically acclaimed Like An Arrow, which debuted at #8 on the UK’s Official Album Chart, Blackberry Smoke return with their sixth studio album.
Self-produced by the Atlanta-based five-piece, Find A Light features 13 new songs written/co-written by frontman and guitarist Charlie Starr. With Blackberry Smoke’s latest offering the group have really pushed their creative boundaries and by doing so covered a lot of ground musically. Almost every track on the record takes Find A Light in a slightly different direction, whilst at the same time maintaining the band’s core roots.
With tracks like the recent radio single “Run Away From It All” and “Nobody Gives A Damn” we are on familiar ground. These songs are unmistakably Blackberry Smoke – pure unadulterated southern rock at its best. Likewise the incredibly soulful “Medicate My Mind” has a quality to it which is akin to the great Allman Brothers themselves.
However, this is so much more than just a southern rock record, with several of the songs giving the album more of a traditional country sound. With “I’ve Got This Song” you get a beautiful fiddle infused slice of Americana. Whereas “Let Me Down Easy” is a stunning country ballad which features some sublime vocal harmonies between Amanda Shires and Charlie Starr.
Similarly “Mother Mountain” brings together a further harmonious collaboration with the Wood Brothers. This incredible number is one of the standout tracks on the album and conjures up images of vintage Crosby, Stills and Nash.
Blackberry Smoke team up with the legendary Robert Randolph on “I’ll Keep Ramlin’”. The latter of which features some frantic pedal steel guitar, a foot-stomping rhythm and is rounded out with a gospel choir.
The beauty of producing a record which traverses such a vast musical landscape is that it maintains the listener’s interest throughout. There is not one weak song on this album, no fillers, you don’t find yourself skipping songs but just listening to and enjoying this incredible long player in full and as the artist intended. We may well only be a quarter of the way through 2018 but Blackberry Smoke has already delivered one of the contenders for album of the year.
Photo: David McClister