Release Date: Feb 10, 2015
Record label: Rounder
Genre(s): Country, Alt-Country, Pop/Rock, Blues-Rock, American Trad Rock, Hard Rock, Rock & Roll, Roots Rock, Contemporary Country, Southern Rock, Retro-Rock, Boogie Rock
Blackberry Smoke is one of the most acclaimed Southern rock bands in recent memory. They’ve acted as a successful headlining act across the American countryside and have even performed with the Zac Brown Band, ZZ Top, Lynyrd Skynyrd, and other legendary names within the lanes of country and rock. It’s not necessarily a big surprise, then, that ardent followers of the band have been looking forward to the release of their fourth studio album, Holding All the Roses, which perhaps appropriately is named after an analogy meaning “you’re the winner”.
Hardcore rockers may come across as gruff and gritty, but in some cases they tend to be nostalgic as well, even though they might not always admit it. How else to explain the fact that so many of the bands that can still gather the faithful are still so consistently tied to the music of the ‘60s and‘70s? Why, it’s enough to get even their most ardent admirers all sappy and sentimental. Witness the ongoing popularity of veteran acts like AC/DC or Lynyrd Skynyrd—or, dare we say, even the Rolling Stones—to appreciate the fact that when it comes to the music, time can literally stand still.
The ongoing explosion of bands that proclaim their adherence to the values of so-called classic rock may occasionally feel like little more than a wholesale surrender to creative laziness, but the huge popularity of Blackberry Smoke and their numerous peers suggests that there is a large audience out there with no enthusiasm for progress or even subtle tinkering. In their defence, Blackberry Smoke are the pick of the nostalgic bunch, with an infectous joie-de-vivre and effortless authenticity that marks them out as rightful heirs to the Black Crowes’ recently vacated throne. Holding All the Roses is honest in its intent, too – these are well crafted but unfussily executed anthems and ballads that nod respectfully towards the glory days of Little Feat and Foghat.
Blackberry Smoke’s fourth album, “Holding All the Roses,” is the sound of a band, thrillingly coming into its own. The Atlanta quintet, with help from producer Brendan O’Brien (Pearl Jam, Bruce Springsteen), blazes through 12 tracks, expertly blending melodic pop smarts, Southern rock fire, and good old country comfort. Whether zipping through the ants-in-your-pants wiggle and boogie of the title track or plumbing the realities of weariness on the introspective “Too High” — which admirably admits that, grand pop songs to the contrary, some days there are mountains too high — the band is sure-footed in its sound and conviction.