Blackberry Smoke: The Whippoorwill
Rating: 3 1/2 out of 5 stars
This Atlanta quintet with their long hair, scraggly beards and tough twang both looks and sounds the part of the clichéd hard drinking, hard loving, hard living good old boys they probably are. But this, their third album and first for Zac Brown’s homespun label, shows the band to be deeper than just whisky guzzlin’ rockers with twangy guitars and bad attitudes. Frontman/guitarist Charlie Starr shows a spirited sense of humor in the anti-blues lyrics of “Ain’t Got the Blues” and can write truly moving tunes like the dead end prospects of the protagonist in “One Horse Town.” Brandon Still’s keyboards bring soul to the sound, especially on the lovely title track, and “Crimson Moon” is a riveting riff rocker worthy of Gov’t Mule. The group raises a ruckus but never at the expense of lyrics that are sharp and singalong worthy. With music influenced as much by the Faces as Lynyrd Skynyrd, there’s nothing edgy and little fresh here. But Blackberry Smoke proves there’s still life and singer/songwriter integrity in the frequently maligned and often dated Southern rock genre.