Before this album, Blackberry Smoke had been on my radar for their chip-on-the-shoulder brand of rock, tinged with the rebel attitude of old school outlaw country. I liked a lot of their songs, but didn’t pay them a whole lot of the attention outside of the tracks I heard on playlists.
That is until now. You Hear Georgia has made me a full-time fan. And it’s about time. They have been making music for two decades.
This ode to southern rock riffs and catchy melodies is a pleasure to listen to from beginning to end. While it does stand up to scrutiny of lyrics and storytelling for the mos tpart, it’s also great background music for anything. Most prominently, I can see it as the perfect soundtrack to driving an old pickup on the backroads with an open beer in the console. I wouldn’t know, but I can pretend in my Mazda 6 on busy city roads with my refillable water bottle.
My first thoughts when hearing this album were that it sounds an awful lot like one of my all-time favorite bands, The Black Crowes. In fact, why have I never written anything about them? They’re easily a top 3 favorite bands of mine–but, I digress. Even though the southern rock genre is not the Crowes to claim, I admit that my love for them clouded my view of You Hear Georgia.
Am I going to try to be objective and review this album on its own merit? Absolutely. Will I succeed? Absolutely not. Inevitably, our own perceptions and bias will always seep into our opinions. But I tried. It’s a win for everybody though. Blackberry Smoke made a great album. I got to listen to it and enjoy it. I hope you do, too.
Track By Track Breakdown
“Live It Down” – Great way to start off the album. Rockin’, upbeat, hype. One of those “forget your problems and just party” songs that we need today. But haven’t we always needed them? A definite standout on the album, regardless of meaning.
Favorite moment: that juicy riff–also, peep the little solo toward the end.
“You Hear Georgia” – Paging the Black Crowes. From the wordplay, to vocal delivery (I kept checking to see if Chris Robinson was featured), to melody–the Black Crowes could do this song and it would sound almost identical. But the genre isn’t the Crowes’ alone. Blackberry Smoke has been in the game for a long time and they aren’t derivative of anyone. They do their own thing, and this song is fantastic.
Favorite moment: “You can’t see nothin’ past a shadow of a doubt.” Love this line.
“Hey Delilah” – Another southern rock gem, this song only gets better the longer you listen. The interesting guitar melodies and riffs distract from whatever the lyrics are saying. It’s about a strong-willed woman. But who cares? It’s good.
Favorite moment: A lot of the rhyming couplets: “She brings me the medicine; disposes of the evidence.” “You know I do what she wants, and not a thing that she don’t.” “She sold me out a time or two; I begged her, honey, how could you? She got a hand on her hip, and a finger to her lip, said, ‘hush, baby, that’ll do’.” “I’ll buy anything she’s got to sell; Man, that woman she really can give ’em hell.”
“Ain’t the Same” – A tiny bit more melancholy and a tiny bit slower, this song still tramples you. It could be the nostalgic themes and wistful longing, or it could be the driving drum tempo and sexy guitar riffs.
Favorite moment: “Nothing’s really changed, it just ain’t the same.” Yeah. I feel that.
“Lonesome for a Living (feat. Jamey Johnson)” – This jumped out to me as the most country track on the album, with the twangy, slide guitar and rollicking rhythm. I’m really fond of the way the vocal melodies marry the musical melody. It’s brilliant composition. The harmonies, and duet performances in general, are fucking great. Easily one of my favorites.
Favorite moment: just the whole vibe, man. You know?
“All Rise Again (feat. Warren Hayes)” – Very “south will rise again”, probably on purpose, knowing the theme of the album. Even if it’s not espousing southern values, the song is fairly generic rock fodder compared to the rest of the album. It’s an okay song though.
Favorite moment: that slide gee-tar is doing work.
“Old Enough to Know” – This song is the grandpa who pulls up a chair next to you and teaches you the ways of the world. You can see it in his wrinkles, in his white hair, in his worn clothing–he’s world-weary and whip-smart. It’s a folksy, rootsy song that I really enjoy. The change of pace is a nice detour, too.
Favorite moment: the vulnerability and rawness of the vocal performance and stripped down musical setup.
“Morningside” – I always forget what “Morningside” is. Not just because that’s a made up word for this song, but because it’s a perfectly fine song that doesn’t really stick out or do anything particularly great. It’s an okay rock song about going through tough times. The verses are stronger than the chorus.
Favorite moment: that it vaguely reminds me of a Black Crowes song, but I can’t put my finger on which one.
“All Over the Road” – A manic song about driving fast and living fast, this is absolutely a companion song to “Kickin’ My Heart Again”, the lead-off song for The Black Crowe’s 1998 By Your Side. You can’t convince me otherwise. The BC song is superior, but I still really like “All Over the Road” a whole bunch. I bet it would be great to crank on the interstate, while going 90.
Favorite moment: the idgaf attitude!
“Old Scarecrow” – This is so vague. What do you want to be “livin’ and let livin'” about? What “opinion” do you not care about? Are we talking about having different views on the economy or are you wanting people to leave you alone when you make racist comments? There’s a big difference. It’s also just a lazily written song, lyrically.
Favorite moment: the melody and guitar riffs.
I’m Queen Dopamine and I sometimes write for this little music blog. I share my thoughts and opinions on music, with no real goal or schedule. My only mission is to write about what I want, when I want. I do album reviews, track rankings, song reviews, first impressions, and You Should Listen To, a segment where I…tell you what you should listen to and why.