Find A Light (2018)

Should we sacrifice everything to achieve success?
Serious question! The guys of Blackberry Smoke did not have to ask a long time and decided to dip into all the styles, thus delivering a relatively disappointing musical patchwork and without any real guideline. However, this "Find a light" could have been much better with a little harmonic rigor. Okay, the musicians have not lost their technique, Charlie Starr still has that nice voice and his guitar continues to smoke. However, the result is very mixed.

So let's start with the bad things. The album begins with "Flesh and bone" which stretches on a heavy medium tempo. This title seems like a "Texas shuffle" but is not really one. To do this, it would have had to speed up. As for the guitar solo, we must admit that it is not exactly great. The country-rock "Run away from it all" could have had its effect if a blues-rock break that has nothing to do with didn’t come to spoil the spirit of the tune. It would have been better to continue in melodic mode. "The crooked kind" (a pop song with a relatively ordinary blues-rock accents) and "I've got this song" do not raise the level.With "I'll keep ramblin'", we are stolen from the goods. It starts in pissed off Southern boogie with a guitar theme at the third. Finally ! We stopped believing it would happen ! Then comes a break with gospel choirs. Why not ? But immediately after, the tempo breaks down into a medium beat before slowing down heavily on the end. Too bad, it started well! Would Blackberry Smoke take itself for the Atlanta’s Iron Maiden? Three tempo changes in the same song is too much! It must be admitted! In addition, Robert Randolph (guest on this title) can not even give the full extent of his talent to the pedal steel guitar. A last straw! With an artist like him, it should have burned flames. Let's move on to two other completely insignificant pieces ("Medicate my mind", "Till the wheels fall off"). Despite a few guests, "Let me down easy" (with the American singer Amanda Shires) and "Mother Mountain" (with the folk band The Wood Brothers) join the same category.

After listening to all these tracks, we seem to fight against a sonorous indigestion that mixes different musical styles (rock music in the broad sense, stoner, power pop and americana). Fortunately, Charlie and his boys have kept some old reflexes. We finally stomp the foot on "Nobody gives a damn" and his intro worthy of AC/DC. The song then moves towards an US "big rock" in the Bruce Springsteen or Tom Petty way. The addition of some minor chords and a good six-string solo finish the job. Effective and engaging. It was high time ! And then, Blacberry Smoke has not forgotten his strong point: the beautiful melodic "Country songs" ("Seems so far" with a good guitar solo and "Lord strike me dead" with a dobro solo). Finally, we come close to excellence with the fast tempo ballad "Best seat in the house" (a cocktail country/americana/American "big rock"). There, the mix of genres hits the target with a solo without excess but well sent. All this feels the desire to be played on the radio but such a tune deserves a breakthrough in the "charts". Whew, we had a lucky escape! Charlie can still compose!

Well, no Southern rock on the horizon but Blackberry Smoke has never been a Southern rock combo (it has never claimed to be). However, a thought immediately comes to mind: four good songs on thirteen titles, it's little! Especially considering that Blackberry Smoke is not a beginner group and has always released good quality records. So what happened? Will to hit the jackpot and cast its net for a larger audience? Strategic approach to radio success? Or simply breakdown of inspiration? As many questions that will probably remain unanswered. But as many points as Blackberry Smoke will have to correct for his next album. At the big exam of the rock’n'roll, this "Find a light" just gets the average with the comment "passable". As far as it concerns the success, we will see if the musicians of Blackberry Smoke were right to sacrifice their talent. Back to rock'n'roll!

Olivier Aubry

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