The Boys are Back: Black Stone Cherry – Family Tree Review

BLACK STONE CHERRY
“Family Tree”

01. Bad Habit
02. Burnin’
03. New Kinda Feelin’
04. Carry Me On Down The Road
05. My Last Breath
06. Southern Fried Friday Night
07. Dancin’ In The Rain (feat. Warren Haynes)
08. Ain’t Nobody
09. James Brown
10. You Got the Blues
11. I Need A Woman
12. Get Me Over You
13. Family Tree

Kentucky’s southern-fried, bluesy, country-rock titans are back with their new album, Family Tree! The blue-collar, Kentucky backwoods-bred sound is completely inimitable, and these boys continue to grow and develop that sound at home. The foursome of Chris (Robertson, guitars/vocals), Ben (Wells, guitars/backing vocals), Jon (Lawhon, bass/backing vocals) and John Fred (Young, drums/backing vocals) have been bonded by the roots they share in western Kentucky, and their music.

As a band that has been influenced by Jimi Hendrix, Aerosmith, Muddy Waters, and a variety of other genres and bands, they have continued to further their own sound. This is quite a feat, as there are so many who emulate other bands and sounds, these days.

Bad Habit sets the tone for most of the album. The foot-stomping anthem kicks off with a quick count-off and breaks into a bluesy riff that’s as dirty as the muddy waters of the Green River in Kentucky. Chris sings of the bad habit a woman is to him, and how he lusts for her, no matter what. 

Blues-tinged, swampy rock is what’s next with Burnin’. Another song about lust for a woman, this sticks with anyone who knows how it feels. The tone continues on with the next song, New Kinda Feelin’. A bit of a honky-tonk feel with the piano in the background, it certainly adds a new element to their repertoire of sound.

Carry Me On Down The Road begins with a drum pattern reminiscent of The Rolling Stones’ Sympathy for the Devil, but that’s where the similarities end. This is where the band really seems to pour their heart and soul into the lyrics and music. This is quintessential Black Stone Cherry; a bit of country, blues, hard rock, and southern soul combine in such a way, it’s all their own.

Opening with a soulful, rhythm and blues-esque organ intro, Chris sings some of the most heartfelt, honest lyrics that he’s ever written. My Last Breath is a love-letter to both his wife and son, proclaiming what he would do with his last breath, and what he wishes for those he loves. Easily one of the most beautiful songs I’ve heard, and a major standout.

Talkbox screeching in almost hip-hop, modern way, introduces us to Southern Fried Friday Night. If any song on this album was influenced by modern country music, it would be this track. I could easily hear Luke Bryan or Blake Shelton record a cover of this. It definitely brings back some memories of driving around western Kentucky backroads.

My personal favorite on the album features guest guitar and vocals from the legendary Warren Haynes. This swampy, bluesy rocker, Dancin’ in the Rain, speaks to me because it’s about overcoming pain and depression. “A broken mind is a tickin’ time-bomb/a broken heart is a full-blown cyclone” is the absolute truth on how things are. 

Ain’t Nobody, another fun bruiser that’s got a sing-along verse that will get anybody singing that “Ain’t nobody got a body like you”. This one is bound to be sung by bar-goers the nation over. 

The “ooh-oohing” of James Brown actually reminds me of another southern band by the name of Needtobreathe, but that’s where the similarities end. This ode to James Brown is another one about what a beautiful woman does to a guy. Most any man can understand these feelings!

You Got The Blues has a surprise appearance by Chris’ 5-year old son, Declan on vocals. This is surely somewhat poignant in him introducing Declan not only to fans, but to music, itself, and what a studio and writing is like. 

 

Final Thoughts

A fantastic effort from the boys in Kentucky! A bluesy, swampy, foot-stomping rocker of a disc!

85%
Overall Rating
95%
Instrumental
80%
Vocals
85%
Mix

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