Blackberry Smoke shines
‘Find A Light’ diversifies Southern rock revivalism
April 6, 2018 marked the release date for Blackberry Smoke’s sixth studio album, Find A Light (Earache). Singer, songwriter, guitarist, and founder of the Southern-tinged rock ’n’ roll outfit Charlie Starr recalls playing Atlanta’s club circuit before landing on much larger stages.
Formed in 2001, the band had just self-released its debut CD, Bad Luck Ain’t No Crime (later reissued by Cock of the Walk), and were performing at the Star Bar and Smith’s Olde Bar when country music star Zac Brown gave the quintet a shot to record 2012’s The Whippoorwill for Brown’s Southern Ground imprint. “That’s when the doors finally opened,” Starr says. “Zac afforded us our first taste of freedom … musically, personally, and artistically. He let us make the record we wanted to make.”
The Whippoorwill hit top 10 on the country music charts, and its follow-up live CD/DVD, Leave A Scar: Live in North Carolina, launched the group onto the national radar.
Constant touring and two more studio albums that debuted at the top spot on the country charts drew a larger audience.
Find A Light incorporates a diverse approach to Southern rock revivalism, featuring sacred steel guitarist Robert Randolph on “I’ll Keep Ramblin,’” folk-rockers the Wood Brothers on “Mother Mountain,” and Amanda Shires, of Jason Isbell & the 400 Unit, on “Let Me Down Easy.”
Blending gospel, folk, blues, and singer-songwriter musings with tougher swamp rocking, Find A Light is Blackberry Smoke’s most varied album to date. But the group continues the same journey it began nearly 20 years ago. “The heavy songs got heavier,” Starr says, “and the gentle songs got gentler.”
Blackberry Smoke plays Cellairis Amphitheatre at Lakewood on Sat., Sept. 1, with Lynyrd Skynyrd.