Overall Score: 8/10 Riffs: 8/10 replay value: 7/10 Songs: 8/10 Pros: Good upbeat vibes from a band on top of their game Cons: feels a little long towards the end
Over the years Black Stone Cherry have become the proverbial Ronseal band, because they do exactly what they say on the tin. Heavy groove laden Southern Rock, you can sing along to while drinking and dancing the night away. Family Tree brings us 13 tracks full of good old rock and roll that is high on good times, but a little bit shallow below the surface. It seems a little silly to expect something deep here, and in all honesty that isn’t why we listen to Black Stone Cherry, we listen because we want the good times, and they are here in spades.
With that said, there is a powerful moment about half way through Family Tree where My Last Breath kicks in and its truly spine tingling. In the latter half of the song, it goes full gospel and adds additional vocals and gives it a huge lift, bringing about a true moment of heart tugging emotion. It comes out of leftfield and packs a punch. That moment aside, it’s business as usual. Bad Habit, Burnin’, New Kinda Feelin’, and Southern Fried Friday Night are your stadium sized anthems, all massive riffs, clever solos and choruses built for festival stages that give the people the adrenaline shot they need.
It’s the second half of the album where the country element is turned up up and there are moments in particular that sound like the Zac Brown Band. This is most noticable on the tracks Get Me Over You and I Need a Women, where the new school country vibes really come to the forefront. They may be less immediate to click than the big rock ragers, but they are no less effective.
A lot of time and effort has been put onto Family Tree with the band overseeing all of the writing and production and it clearly shows, as every element sounds as big as it possibly can. The songs are well paced and Black Stone Cherry are clearly at their creative peak, they know what they want, and what their audience expects and they are delivering on all fronts. I do wonder if at this stage in the bands career if they continue to stick so rigidly to their formula how that will affect their ability to pull in a new audience, but with that said its also commendable that they are sticking to their guns and playing what they want to play.
Family Tree is a perfect summer album that takes everything that is Black Stone Cherry and consolidates it into one album, while also showing just how far they have come over the last few years, from small bars to headlining festivals and arenas. They may not be breaking the mould, but they are having plenty of fun doing what they do and that is more often than not a better position to be in.
Family Tree is released today through Mascot Records/Mascot Label Group.