Family Tree

Black Stone Cherry

Mascot, 2018

http://www.blackstonecherry.com

REVIEW BY: Benjamin Ray

ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED: 05/08/2018

You know how some nights you just want to relax with a beer and watch a show you’ve already seen simply because it makes you feel good? Family Tree is the aural equivalent of that scenario.

Black Stone Cherry isn’t trying to reinvent Southern rock or anything. This sort of bluesy fried hard-rock swagger has been done many times going back to Skynyrd and continues in the guise of Chris Stapleton, Blackberry Smoke, Gov’t Mule, Drive-By Truckers and other current progenitors of the genre. It’s the same story each time: rollicking, rowdy, drenched in guitars, lyrics celebrating good times and Southern life. It’s great music to drink to and/or crank up in your garage or backyard.nbtc__dv_250

Whether that makes it essential listening is another matter, of course; the tracks are individually great at the time but tend to run together after a while. In concert, or as a soundtrack to your next barbecue, this would not be an issue, but as a listening experience it leaves something to be desired when each track has the same approach.

Still, it’s a heavy, hooky album that’s a lot of fun, particularly on the title track, the soulful “James Brown,” the raucous “Bad Habit” and the country-influenced “Southern Fried Friday Night,” which is a lot better than that corny bro-country title makes it sound. In the hands of, say, Blake Shelton or Luke Perry, it would be cliché beyond belief, but Chris Robertson has no aims toward putting on a show or being a celebrity. He wants to put on the flannel, rock out, and stay true to his family and his roots.

To that end, “Burnin’” is perhaps the strongest showcase here for what Black Stone Cherry does best, while “My Last Breath” is a heartfelt ballad about fatherhood that shows Robertson has no qualms about manly men in trucks who wear their hearts on their sleeves. More power to him, I say. And because this is a live band first and foremost who is happiest on stage, there are guitar solos galore and an appearance by Warren Haynes on “Dancin’ in the Rain.”

It’s no stretch to say this, the band’s third album, is their best one yet. A growing confidence and maturity vital to the blues has entered into Robertson’s vocabulary, meaning that while Family Tree may not change your life or stick with you, it positions Black Stone Cherry among the leading talents of Southern rock. So kick back with that beer and this album. You’ve earned it.

Rating: B

User Rating: Not Yet Rated


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