Release Date: 20th April 2018
Label: Mascot Records
It’s a Friday evening in early-June, you’re bathed in sunshine and you have some slightly warm beer in your hand. You’ve just been blown away by Danish titans Volbeat, you’re settling in to a good spot for Avenged Sevenfold and then some dirty riffs pour out of the sound system at the main stage of Download 2018. Four Kentucky rockers are on stage playing tracks from their latest album and my goodness life is good. The band: Black Stone Cherry and Family Tree is the 6th album from the UK’s favourite Southern Rockers.
Kicking straight into ‘Bad Habit’ it’s clear to hear that BSC are back in the kind of form that may have slightly evaded them with Kentucky. Not that it was a bad album, but after just 15 seconds ‘Bad Habit’ has the energy and swagger that went amiss on album five. There is a funky ass bass line and there are blues influences, picked up from the Back To Blues EP undoubtedly, before a chunky riff and classy solo hit. This is what everyone wants from Black Stone Cherry, pure rock ‘n’ roll fun.
‘Burnin” follows and throws you all the way back to the 2006 self-titled debut album, though the 60 second guitar fill in the middle is something we’ve not heard much of from BSC. As a track it shows the evolution of 12 years of the band and feeds nicely into the piano backed ‘New Kinda Feeling’. In previous albums the band have drifted towards being a bit cheesey. ‘Blame It On The Boom Boom’ and ‘Peace Pipe’ were bordering on being clichés, there’s none of that on Family Tree though, whether you liked it or not.
The stand out track on the album by far is ‘My Last Breath’. It is another stunning ballad from BSC that immediately conjures up all sorts of emotions. Chris Robertson’s vocals have a significant amount of depth, as usual, and the lyrics are painfully meaningful making it nigh on impossible to get through the song without your mind wandering to who you would spend your last breath on. Listening to this at the right time will see a tear will be brought to your eyes without a doubt and if this were doubled up with ‘Things My Father Said’ during live sets it could be 10 of the most powerful minutes of rock ever witnessed.
As you tick over to the second half of Family Tree you have tracks like ‘James Brown’, where you get a true homage to the roots of the band as much as it is a aimed at the legend himself. It’s another song in a long line of relaxed as hell tracks that just make you want to break out a beer and turn it up loud. ‘I Need A Woman’ does similar, but with a chorus so soulful it hurts. ‘Get Some Over You’ is so slow it almost feels like it’s an LP playing at 33rpm instead of 45. It’s this track that starts winding you down for the end of Family Tree, though not before the title track sees you out with another killer riff and some big, big vocals.
Black Stone Cherry have returned in 2018 and they may just be stronger than ever. I remember finding them back in the MySpace days when ‘Lonely Train’ was on my 12 track MP3 player for months. Over a decade later and Family Tree has so much maturity to it, so much talent on display and so many great songs forming it. Another step has been taken here and this next couple of years of touring could be huge.
Recommended Tracks: My Last Breath, Bad Habit, I Need A Woman