By Jack Sharkey, April 20, 2018


Front to Back Album Review: Blackberry Smoke - Into the Light

  • Released: April 6, 2018
  • Label: 3 Legged Records
  • Producer: Blackberry Smoke

 4 Play Buttons

Four out of Five Play Buttons

I know this will sound blasphemous to some, but Lynyrd Skynyrd ceased to exist on October 20, 1977 in a field in Gillsburg, Mississippi. Although something called Lynyrd Skynyrd still tours today – they’re not, so just stop. That being said I have the utmost respect for the musicians that were Lynyrd Skynyrd, and the late-70s Southern Rock movement in general, and I feel that everyone who came after and tried to copy them just fell short. Good thing for Blackberry Smoke they have no interest in copying anyone. Sure there are bits of Rossington-Collins-Van Sandt in Blackberry Smoke’s musical DNA. But there’s also a touch of Georgia Satellites, latter day Allman Brothers, Shooter Jennings, Old ‘97s and Marshall Tucker. Plus you’ll hear some Outlaw and Bakersfield country, Eagles and Poco too. As they so eloquently remind us, time {and music) just reminds us of where we used to be...seems like that what makes us who we are.


They are an American band playing American music and it’s glorious: A quintet of excellent musicians who aren’t afraid to letBlackberry Smoke - Into the Light their influences – and their reckless disregard for decorum – show. Oscar Wilde supposedly said “talent borrows, genius steals” but I just don’t buy it. Musically, the best musicians find a way to take everything that has gone before and make it something uniquely their own. Allow me to praise Blackberry Smoke for being a nuthin’ fancy (some of you will see what I did there) rock and roll band with a distinctly southern sound – a well-schooled continuum of American musical heritage.


Find A Light is Blackberry Smoke’s sixth full-length studio album and it’s very, very good. Sonically, it’s thick, loud and boisterous with a no-frills production that recalls every rowdy Friday night you’ve either had or wished you'd had. Robert Randolph, the amazing steel guitarist, sits down for an over-the-top performance in I’ll Keep Ramblin’ that’s worth the cover charge alone. The follow-up to the Randolph showcase, Seems So Far, is as good a country, rock or Southern Rock song as you’ll find. Singer Amanda Shires also makes a guest appearance on the beautiful country ballad Let Me Down Easy.


If you like guitars, Americana and your rock and roll rowdy, Find A Light is an album you need to put in rotation. The guitars are loud. The vocals are set back in the mix. The rhythm section is like a brick wall – impenetrable and imposing. The hooks are surprisingly catchy and poppy (Run Away From It All) leads that pack, and you can play it all loudly without fear of the kids in the next car looking at you like you’re some desperately anachronistic tool.


Now if you’ll excuse me, I’ve been inspired to blow off work for the rest of the day and go out and find some trouble. The weather is finally nice, there is a beer waiting for me at the dive bar up the road and my motorcycle is idling in the driveway – I have to leave right now while the raver Nobody Gives A Damn is still stuck in my head.



Currently only available in 44.1/24 for streaming or download. CD & vinyl available. Listened to via Tidal streamed to LS50W.