It’s also their first release on the independent Mascot Label Group rather than Roadrunner Records, which produced all four of the band’s previous albums. Always a common appearance on many of the rock music channels and radio stations, Black Stone Cherry have become well known for writing grungy, riff-tastic songs which still have that element of accessibility that means they just flirt with the tastes of people who otherwise wouldn’t listen to this kind of music.
A lot of the time, moving from a bigger label to a smaller one can result in a change in priorities in the production values of the album. Money can be slightly tighter and as such the record can suffer in its eventual finished sound. I’m happy to report that this simply isn’t the case with Kentucky as opening track “The Way Of The Future” hits you with a gigantic guitar riff and drums that are so punchy they’ll blast any dust from your hi-fi’s speakers! In fact, it’s not until we reach track five “Long Ride” that the volume dial of the band comes down a few notches and even then it’s only in the verses.
This is an album that is proudly strutting around your ears with a sonic onslaught designed to grab you and reach into your soul. Even the cover of “War” (made famous by Edwin Starr in 1970) strikes you with its pure meatiness, though happily Black Stone Cherry’s version still retains the evangelical strength of feeling behind the lyrics. It’s a perfectly weighted balance of rock music and deep, soulful horns that pays to have its own character despite being a straightforward cover simply with different instrumentation and performance.
Towards the latter half of Kentucky you’d be forgiven for thinking that maybe a slow-burner track would be coming along soon, but it’s not really until the end of the album acoustic track “The Rambler” that the band really takes their foot off the gas pedal. It’s a soft lament with some subtle violin work about constantly being on the road that nicely ends the album. Aside from a few of the tracks that might feature a quiet intro before the song kicks in, it’s the only low volume moment of the album and is welcomed. Fans of the band can get two bonus tracks if you purchase the deluxe version, but the standard album features 13 tracks so there’s good value for money in terms of quantity.
After a full length listen of Kentucky, you come away with a sense of having heard a band that is still very much at the top of their game with no signs of slowing down. Every member is on point with their instrument and there aren’t many vocalists that can pull off a throaty “Yeah!” like frontman Chris Robertson. Without wishing to be picky, it’s a shame that the album is a little one dimensional until the final song, but then Black Stone Cherry are so good at chunky riffs with Blues infused vocals over the top that it’s a very minor gripe. If you like your rock music full on and to the point, you’d do well to check out Black Stone Cherry’s latest release.
Author: Steve, Bristol store