Becoming emotionally connected to a band is both the best and worst thing a music journo can possibly do!
The best because holy shit, I get to talk to one of my favourite bands and listen to their music before the official release! Black Stone Cherry’s Aussie publicist Annie, contacted me a couple of years ago with “Hey, give these guys a listen, tell me what you think”. That was just before the release of Kentucky in 2016. So I had a listen and I enjoyed it. Then I had a chat to Jon Lawhon and it was amazing and I backed that up with watching them perform live at Festival Hall in Melbourne. I can safely say at that moment, I was hooked. It’s a real “happily ever after” situation.
However, it’s also the worst, because you all know straight off the bat, I’ve got nothing bad to say. These guys could come out on stage and do a cover of Toni Basil’s “Mickey”, complete with pompoms, and I still wouldn’t have a problem. It kind of sucks because I think I’ve crossed that fine line between reviewing and fangirling. Even as I’m sitting here typing this, I’m singing Burnin’. Unaccompanied. It’s terrible. Although I did play Mickey on YouTube a few minutes ago. It was terrible too.
Thinking back to 2 years ago, when I reviewed Kentucky, I really took my time to listen and absorb the album, I researched the band and I put so much time into trying to fine tune all the details. I didn’t really know BSC and I was trying to be very professional and conscientious. I pulled apart every note, every article and every lyric. I think I just wanted everyone involved to look back and think “wow, that girl knows her shit”.
It was a completely different experience with Family Tree. Now I know the guys a little better, I didn’t want to over-analyse or rehearse anything and I think they’d be pretty happy to hear that. I listened to Family Tree quite a few times, without pen and paper, and just let it sink into my skin and pump through my veins. I wasn’t willing to do anything but simply feel the music. It was a more natural and organic experience and I left it at that. Again, Annie contacted me to ask if I wanted to interview the guys and this time, I wasn’t stressed or nervous – I was genuinely connected and ready to wing it. So now, I’m going to attempt to salvage my non-existent music journalism career with a review of Family Tree.
I was able to have a chat with John Fred Young, BSC drummer, and we had a good conversation about how much Family Tree feels like a natural continuation from Kentucky. The Kentucky album was a “breaking of chains”, it gave the guys a new-found freedom to do their own thing without restriction. Family Tree is definitely a tribute to the people who have been there all along – family, friends and fans. It’s also a celebration of the growth and blossoming made possible by Kentucky and it’s a pretty special journey to be a part of. A part that I would never have experienced if I hadn’t fallen in love with BSC.
As always, I did find myself making comparisons to other artists and songs and after you listen to the album a few times, you simply stop making these comparisons. Sure, even the guys from BSC acknowledge their influences but the consistency and natural flow between tracks prove that these guys have thrived on returning to their roots and giving life to the soul and passion of BSC.
I did tell John that for me, recent single Burnin’ was like a modern day Simply Irresistible or Addicted to Love by Robert Palmer. It is so sexy and smooth and makes you want to sway and groove and play a fake guitar to try and express the heat in the air. John was pretty happy with that comparison and I’m glad, because I was simply trying to say that these guys absolutely have the ability to seduce and get the blood pumping. Classy AND hot.
On a more serious note, another stand-out song on Family Tree is My Last Breath. It immediately stood out like a bright beam of love that could conquer the entire world. I couldn’t make a comparison because this is BSC, down to their very core. It was a “wow” moment for me, and I told John that. This song has the ability to make you cry because it makes you want to remember every single amazing and precious moment with every person you have ever loved. Chris’ vocals on this track are incredible and easily one of the most amazing things I’ve ever heard. If there was ever a song that could end war and hate and all things awful – this is that song. Words can’t express how much I love this track.
Fingers crossed these guys get back out to Aussie shores as soon as possible! Not to be selfish or anything, but I’d like it and that’s what really matters.
I think you all need to have a listen to the interview and then go and check out Family Tree, the sixth studio album released by Black Stone Cherry! It’s infectious. Check out blackstonecherry.com for all the details of what they’re up to and follow the guys on Facebook!