In an industry where many have come and gone, Kentucky based Rock-n-Roll band Black Stone Cherry have survived and thrived. Sticking together out of high school – Chris Robertson (vocals/guitars), Ben Wells (guitars/backing vocals), Jon Lawhon (bass/backing vocals), and John Fred Young (drums/piano/backing vocals – are a strong nucleus who has grown as musicians, but also people over the last twenty years.
How have they manage to keep the fire burning this long? Friendship, talent, but perhaps the key to it all was put best by Lawhon in 2015 interview with Cryptic Rock when he said, “The whole reason why anybody picks up the guitar, bass, or a pair of drumsticks, is because you found something that you love and have fun with. So don’t turn it into work.” A simply philosophy, it is one any band can learn from, because in the end, we are all human and need to enjoy the brief time we are given.
Taking that concept into play, Black Stone Cherry offer up their seventh studio album, amply titled The Human Condition. Set for release on Friday, October 30, 2020 through Mascot Records, the album interestingly enough was completely just prior to COVID-19 striking the world like a ton of bricks. Without any thought of a pandemic in mind, one that has forced many of us to look inward, revaluate ourselves, and no doubt struggle along the way, The Human Condition is a collection of songs that is right on time.
Thirteen tracks in total, the mood ranges from happy to somber and from let down to triumph. Self-produced in Lawhon’s recording facility, Monocle Studios, on various levels, there is a heaviness behind each song. For one, the lyrics are honest, raw, and true to life; they tap into the emotions of angst, anger, joy, sadness, and hope that we all experience. Second, the crispy, punchy sound of the instrumentation is powerfully emotion; in fact, it is downright refreshing to listen to. All this said, Black Stone Cherry did a great job of not repeating what they have done prior and producing a Hard Rock album that is high octane from start to finish.
Fading in slowly, you are quickly struck in between the eyes with “Ringin In My Head.” Feeling as if Robertson is on a megaphone, seeking to wake the dead, from here you have the killer single “Again,” along with “Push Down and Turn,” but also the slightly more mellow Rock ballad “When Angels Learn To Fly” and the heartfelt “If My Heart Had Wings.” Then cuts like “Live This Way” and “Ride” blast you away with blistering guitar riffs, matched with extremely potent drumming. On top of that you have the exceptional, catchy single “In Love With The Pain,” a pretty damn good cover of Electric Light Orchestra’s “Don’t Bring Me Down,” and the thought-provoking “Some Stories.”
All in all, The Human Condition is a solid Hard Rock-n-Roll album that vividly shows the evolution of Black Stone Cherry. Effective on many levels, it rocks, it rolls, but most of all, it finds it way deep into your soul. One of their finest moments, Cryptic Rock gives Black Stone Cherry’s The Human Condition 4.5 out of 5 stars.