October 22, 2018 Blackberry Smoke – The Southern Ground Sessions (EP Review)
The prideful Southern Rockers well-known as Blackberry Smoke are set to drop their second new release of 2018, as the EP entitled The Southern Ground Sessions will bestow itself to fans on Friday, October 26, via Thirty Tigers.
Incorporating a humble group of talents, Blackberry Smoke are famous for the sincere lead vocals of Guitarist Charlie Starr, the expressive guitar of Paul Jackson, and the joyous keys of Brandon Still, all held together by the bedrock rhythm section of Richard Turner on bass and Brit Turner on the drums.
Looking back at early 2018, the gentlemen of Blackberry Smoke released Find a Light, the band’s sixth overall studio album, on April 6. Once again receiving critical adulation, Blackberry Smoke took Find a Light on the road for much of the Spring, Summer, and Fall, packing out venues across the U.S. In the midst of it all, Blackberry Smoke wanted to offer fans a little something extra in 2018, as the band huddled into Southern Ground Studios in Nashville, Tennessee. You see, in addition to the original renditions on Find a Light, Blackberry Smoke wished to add an extra touch to a bit of the album’s key tracks, thus recording The Southern Ground Sessions – a pure acoustic take on five tracks and one new cover song. Sitting comfortably in the ambiance of the recording studio, Blackberry Smoke performed live takes, put it all on tape, and will serve it up as The Southern Ground Sessions EP.
A novel songbook, The Southern Ground Sessions arrives as Blackberry Smoke’s fourth EP, the first since 2015’s Wood, Wire & Roses. Best served on a warm summery night, while sitting on a rocking chair, on the porch, The Southern Ground Sessions is a collection to listen to with your eyes closed while you let the worries of the day disappear. In a breathtaking opener, “Let Me Down Easy (Featuring Amanda Shires),” blends a soft, subtle, slightly uptempo, old-school Country Music vibe. Joined by Folk Guitarist Oliver Wood, Blackberry Smoke offer a very Doobie Brothers, 1960s/1970s jam band essence on “Mother Mountain,” taking the listener on a journey down a dirt highway with nothing but scenery for miles.
Next, Blackberry Smoke pay a noteworthy tribute to one of the greats, the late Tom Petty, who we lost just one year ago on October 2, 2017. Covering the 2001 Rock-and-Roll Hall of Famer’s classic, on “You Got Lucky,” joined by Amanda Shires, Blackberry Smoke take the track to another level. Here, the band incorporate an opening highly reminiscent of The Beatles’ epic “While My Guitar Gently Weeps,” a quiet and mysterious musical environment of which Tom Petty would be proud. Taking the “Best Seat In The House,” Blackberry Smoke remit an even brighter home-style feeling than they did on the original. As we all want from time to time, the acoustic rendition of “Medicate My Mind” is plentiful as The Southern Ground Sessions end in what should be a Find a Light fan favorite, “Run Away From It All.”
A pleasure to listen to, The Southern Ground Sessions take six previously recorded tracks and strip it all down to the bare bone of the melody and intended feeling of the songs. In the end, Blackberry Smoke perfect Rock-n-Roll one more time and fans are going to love it. You simply cannot argue with music this good, and that is why CrypticRock gives The Southern Ground Sessions 4.5 out of 5 Stars.