Atlanta’s finest, Blackberry Smoke, are back in town with a new album, Like An Arrow.
Recorded and mixed by Billy Joe Bowers at The Quarry Recording Studio in Kenneshaw, Georgia, Like An Arrow is the band’s fifth album. This time around Blackberry Smoke produced it themselves as frontman Charlie Starr explains, “This album is the self-produced culmination of fifteen years of trying to plant our flag in the musical landscape. We couldn’t be more proud of it!”
And so they should be!
Released on 14th October via Earache Records, Like An Arrow brings us twelve new songs- well, eleven new ones and one that may be familiar if you are a regular at a show.
Waiting For The Thunder, the first single released from the record, opens proceedings. This song is instantly recognisable as Blackberry Smoke but its harder and heavier than their normal offerings. Brandon Still get to shine with a stunning organ solo that’s swiftly followed by a sweltering guitar solo from Paul Jackson. Thunderous opener!
Let It Burn changes the vibe and tempo. It’s back to their country/honky tonk bar roots with this toe tapping tune. “I can’t be sentimental when it don’t mean nothing to me.” This one obviously means a lot. Love it!
Track three, The Good Life, slows things down a little. There’s a reflective air to this track. Lovely easy drums (I want to say “lazy” but that sounds rude) from Brit Turner. Love the heartfelt vocals from Charlie Starr. “Don’t let the good life pass you by.” No chance! Beautiful song.
This reflective mood continues a couple of tracks later in Running Through Time. There’s echoes of The Eagles in this one as Charlie sings about the changes a guy faces with aging and looking back to his younger self. Gorgeous guitar work in the background. Love the line “He’ll kick like a mule at the thought of being told what to do.”
Title track Like An Arrow follows and returns to a heavier rock feel. “Like an arrow we will fly. Some stay low and some get high.” Yes, I’m sure they do. Great track!
One not quite so new song makes its appearance a couple of tracks later. Sunrise In Texas has appeared in Blackberry Smoke’s live set on and off over the years. As Charlie admits, “That song is like Big Foot for the band- it would show up now and again then disappear for a while.” Don’t let it out of your sight again, boys! Love this sleepy, end of the day tune.
Believe You Me adds another dimension to proceedings. It adds a bit of 1970’s funk- think James Brown or perhaps The Bee Gees. It’s catchy. It’s fun and it makes you want to dance. Sure to be a hit when played live.
Like An Arrow concludes with something a little bit special. Greg Allman of Allman Brothers Band fame has long been a huge influence on Blackberry Smoke and he guests on the final track, Free On The Wing. This is a truly stunning song to end with. Lyrically its Charlie Starr at his finest. The introduction of the mandolin adds that little je ne sais quoi. Beautiful song. “One love story’s over and another’s just begun.”
It sure has!
Blackberry Smoke had hit the bullseye Like An Arrow with this album!