You Hear Georgia (2021)

Here is the question that many people ask themselves: what is the last album of Blackberry Smoke worth?

And without delay, here is one of the possible answers: this disc risks generating mixed opinions. Why ?
Because even after careful listening, you don't really know what to think about it.

Come on, let's start on the positive side.

We always appreciate the warm southern voice and the laid back guitar of Charlie Starr (which are the main attractions of the group). “Live it down” swings well with a slightly funky rhythm and a touchy guitar solo. The song "Delilah" is illuminated by a very good slide guitar. There's also a slow country song featuring country singer Jamey Johnson ("Lonesome for a livin").

Apart from bass and drums, the Americana ballad "Old enough to know" offers essentially acoustic arrangements (acoustic guitars, piano). The fast rock "All over the road" flings a good slide solo.

But it is especially the fast country ballad "Ain't the same" that catches the attention. It is a pity that there is no solo to speak of, only a few guitar phrases responding to harmonic descents. Despite this flaw, it is arguably the best song on the album (which is probably why the band previewed it on their website).

Now for the negative side.

The musicians of Blackberry Smoke always insist on recording listless songs with a medium tempo and hints of heavy blues-rock which quickly turns boring: "You hear Georgia" (whose solo could have been a little more sought after), "Morning side”,“Old scarecrow”(despite some southern coloring). As for the laborious blues-rock with pop accents "All rise again", it is not even saved from banality by the presence of Warren Haynes (one wonders what he is doing there).

And then, we are not really dazzled by the six-string solos which, depending on the title, should be more punchy or more melodic (and yet guitarists know their job). Not to mention the guitar harmonizations which are rare.

All this generates a feeling of frustration with a production where the good meets the passable.

Blackberry Smoke's last record is therefore quite average overall, again because of these heavy tracks without any real inspiration. It might be time for the band to regroup.

Now, this album will undoubtedly delight the fans of the group and good for them. However, it will leave rockers unsatisfied (let's not even mention southern rock fans, Blackberry Smoke not wining fame in this style).

Olivier Aubry


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