In a state more known for it’s famous horse race, baseball bats, and Blue Grass music comes a band that is blazing it’s own trail in rock music. Black Stone Cherry is from Edmonton, Kentucky and was formed in June of 2001. Edmonton is also home of the country music group Kentucky Headhunters who have more in common with the band than just sharing the same hometown. The band’s drummer John Fred Young’s father and uncle are members of the country rock band. Other Black Stone Cherry band members include Chris Robertson (vocals/guitar), Ben Wells (guitar/vocals), Jon Lawhon (bass/vocals). Their musical style is reminiscent of Southern rockers like Lynyrd Skynyrd, and Blackfoot with a heavier sound more like Zakk Wylde and Black Label Society. Their song writing tells tales of moonshiners, rain wizards, and families dealing with loved ones who go off to war. The band sounds familiar to some degree and yet it is hard to pigeon-hole them into a single genre. I would call it Southern, hard rock, butt kickin’ , alternative, anti-grunge. Let’s give it a listen.
The album I am reviewing is Black Stone Cherry’s only full length release to date. It was released July 18th, 2006. The first track is “Rain Wizard”. It is about a local legend of mysterious wise men who could bring the rain in times of drought. The sound comes storming out of the record gate like a torrent of rocking guitars flooding the ear canal with that crunching audio I love. The second track is called “Backwoods Gold” about the local moonshiner who sold local spirits out of a hardware store. Did I mention that Edmonton is in a dry county? The guitars scream with much Wah effects in this hard driving track. The next song is gaining a lot of popularity in recent days. It is called “Lonely Train” and the rhythm guitar sounds just like a train as is rumbles through a sleepy Kentucky town. The song lyrics are thought provoking from a worlds point of view. Here is the chorus:
But you can’t judge a book
Looking at the cover
You can’t love someone
While messing with another
No, you can’t win a war
Fighting with your brother
You wanna have peace
Gotta love one another
I will just add right here that real peace can be found in Jesus Christ and it is a free gift. I would be remiss if I said that you will never again have problems in life but the peace found in the one person who paid the price for your sin is unmatched. If you would like to know more about that peace and the free gift link here.
The next rockin’ track is called “Maybe Someday” about becoming a rock star. The sound is hard edged alternative in flavor with a nice rock n’ roll influenced guitar solo. The next song “When The Weight Comes Down” is a well composed rock athem that takes us on a tour of the country and what might happen if we allow foreign soldiers in.
Album highlights would be “Rain Wizard”, “Lonely Train”, “When The Weight Comes Down”, “Crosstown Woman” with it’s slide guitar, “Shooting Star” the guitar intro and the vocal effects are pretty cool, “Hell & High Water” has a definite southern rock sound, “Tired of the Rain” has some Allman Brothers influence, “Rollin’ On is like Lynyrd Skynyrd meets Slash, a very cool song. I love the lyric:
Just like the seasons I’m gonna change
Like the clouds I’m rollin’ on
Hey, Merle Haggard I know what you mean
When you say sing me back home
This is without a doubt the best album I have reviewed yet this year. I love the hard southern rock sound of this album and the lyrical content is fantastic for a band so young. From top to bottom the songs are well written and well produced. The only not so shining moment is in their attempt to cover the song “Shapes Of Things” but it is hard to cover Jeff Beck and The Yardbirds. Even with that I give the album five out of five stars. Rawk On!
Check out the video for “Hell & High Water” below.