@planetmosh reviews Holding all the Roses by .@blackberrysmoke on .@EaracheRecords
Holding all the Roses is an American term meaning you’re the winner. It’s an appropriate name for this, Blackberry Smoke’s fourth studio album, as this band is fast becoming the one everyone else in the Southern Rock genre is chasing. Singer Charlie Starr, guitarist Paul Jackson, keyboard player Brandon Still and brothers Brit and Richard Turner on drums and bass respectively are going from strength to strength. I actually couldn’t figure out where they found the time to make a new album, as they seem to tour constantly. I saw them play Glasgow twice last year and my news feed seems to be filled every day with photos of them on stage in front of yet another sell out crowd somewhere in the world. However my question was answered when I found out the album was completed in only eleven days. Apparently with legendary producer Brendan O’Brien at the helm there’s no hanging around! He’s worked with some massive artists in the past including AC/DC, Pearl Jam and Bruce Springsteen and represents somewhat of a feather in the cap for Blackberry Smoke, proving that their star is definitely on the rise.
I may have expected working with such a big name producer to pull the album further towards the mainstream but if anything the opposite is true. Holding all the Roses sees Blackberry Smoke influenced even more by traditional Southern music. The title track features some fiddle that drags your imagination straight into a foot stomping hoedown.
The album opens with the first single Let me help you (find the door), currently being played in heavy rotation on rock radio stations across the country. It’s classic Blackberry Smoke, upbeat, great for a singalong but at the same time having a good old rant about things that piss them off, in this case the total lack of originality amongst some members of today’s music business. “Same sons of bitches still rigging the game, they sell the same old faces with a brand new name.” Having previously had record company woes of their own the band must be over the moon to now be settled at Earache, home of some of the best new bands around, including The Temperance Movement, who’ll accompany Blackberry Smoke on the US Holding all the Roses tour.
Back in October when they played Glasgow the band treated us to a preview of Living in the Song, and it went down very well indeed. It’s always good when a song lives up to your memory. This one certainly does, it’s a slow burner of a song and Charlie Starr’s vocal is emotive as he sings, “ain’t always a happy ending, we ain’t in a fairy tale.”
It’s really an album which has everything. There’s Charlie’s voice, just getting better with every album, the sweet little guitar instrumental of Randolph County Farewell, the fiddles of Holding all the Roses which would get anyone on the dancefloor. As an aside, they’d also fit well into any ceilidh band, I wonder if it’s my Scottishness that draws me to this band? Anyone who has the Leave a Scar Live album will recognise Payback’s a Bitch (“if I were you I’d sleep with one eye open,) a song that always gets the crowd going as we all recognise the sentiment. Be honest, haven’t you wished for someone to get the payback they deserve? My top tip with this album is to LISTEN to it!! Sounds obvious but what I mean is, don’t just tap your feet along with the music. Sit back, and actually listen. It’s an album with a lot of opinions, a lot to say, and if you take the time you’ll find a lot to relate to. If you need convinced, take three minutes and listen to Wish in one Hand. You’ll know what I mean after that.
It seems like every time I mention Blackberry Smoke on Planetmosh I’m raving about how great they are. That, my friends, is because they’re bloody great. Holding all the Roses is released on February 9th and you should all do yourselves a huge favour and buy it.
1. Let me help you (find the door)
2. Holding all the Roses
3. Living in the Song
4. Rock and Roll Again
5. Woman in the Moon
6. Too High
7. Wish in One Hand
8. Randolph County Farewell
9. Payback’s a Bitch
10. Lay it all on Me
11. No way back to Eden
12. Fire in the Hole.