Only a year has passed since the release of an album from the Blackberry Smoke camp, yet they’re already at it again with their fifth studio album, Like An Arrow. Hailing from Atlanta, Georgia, the five piece have their work cut out in following the footsteps of their last album, Holding All The Roses, which landed in Top 50 charts across the world upon its release. Imaginably on a creative roll to be churning out a second album in as many years, only time will tell if Blackberry Smoke have what it takes to deliver a second time around.
Gutsy opener Waiting For The Thunder has a ballsy riff that sits inside a track with a very stop-start rhythm. As an opener, it sets a punchy dynamic that hopefully sets the tone for the rest of the album. Let It Burn slams home that good old southern rock that Blackberry Smoke have absolutely nailed down, with an upbeat, jolly guitar melody that makes it irresistible to get anything other than little jiggly to this track. What Comes Naturally is a slower affair, which carries dirty, scuzzy yet bluesy guitars paired with an almost lazy, moseying keyboard part. The track feels as if it’s swaying; sidling along and it’s not hard to conjure up pictures of a dingy, yet lively bar somewhere in America, home to an abundance of wood panelling, selling speciality beers in pots with handles to long haired men clad in an excess of denim- especially given the occasional holler or whistle in the background. It’s quite sleazy; with lyrics like ‘come and rub your honey all over me’, it’s hard not to be, however the song still somehow maintains an element of charm.Meanwhile, title track Like An Arrow has a slight Black Stone Cherry vibe to it, however it’s not quite as stand-out as perhaps expected from a title track. This being said, it still holds some relatable lyrics, which shed a little light on the ins and outs of life. Sunrise In Texas starts out as a stripped down, ballad kind of number, before taking the duration of the entire track to build to its climax, which in the finish is an impassioned country-rock song, weighted with an underlying message that has a ‘the world goes on’ kind of vibe. Penultimate track Believe You Me embodies an absolute wealth of funk; complete with heavily jazz-influenced electronic keys and lots of distortion, it adds a hip-shaking edge of groove to the otherwise primarily rock ‘n’ roll album.
Like An Arrow is an empowered album, which uplifts in its country moments and allows for heavier, hard rock points, all while embracing elements of groove, underlined by strains of jazz and blues. It’s through and through true southern rock, however when fleshed out with all of the above, it becomes accessible to a wider audience; perhaps those who weren’t accustomed to the likes of Blackberry Smoke and their peers such as Black Stone Cherry and Lynyrd Skynryd- it’s quite possible Blackberry Smoke, especially with this album, could be a gateway band for their genre.
Like An Arrow is out Friday October 13th via Earache Records