Blackberry Smoke self-produced its new release Find A Light with producer/mixer Tom Tapley (Bruce Springsteen, Pearl Jam) and long-time collaborator Benji Shanks. Charlie Starr (vocals, guitar) co-wrote four of the songs with Keith Nelson (Buckcherry, Alice Cooper) and two with Travis Meadows (Hank Williams, Jr.). Rounded out by Brit Burner on drums and Brandon Still on keyboards, the work done here by Starr, by Paul Jackson (guitar) and by Richard Turner (bass) (both also sing), this Light shines. These boys are the heirs apparent to the Southern guitar royalty of the Allman Brothers and the halcyon days of Lynyrd Skynyrd.
In addition to appearances by Amanda Shires (Jason Isbell) and the Wood Brothers, Robert Randolph plays pedal steel and co-wrote “I’ll Keep Ramblin”. When the heavy guitar riffs of “Flesh and Bone,” hit you, you’ll want to inhale the Blackberry Smoke on Find a Light. Charlie Starr cuts to the “flesh and bone” (excuse the pun) with concrete imagery in his straightforward, compelling lyrics. But while the imagery is truly outstanding – flipping a quarter from a bridge a into river on “Run Away From It All,” unwinding springs on “Medicate My Spring,” – Blackberry Smoke is guitar rock. And guitar country. And folk.
From the very hard rock of “Flesh and Bone,” (“maybe the heaviest song we’ve ever recorded,” says Starr) to the country rock of “Till The Wheels Fall Off,” acoustic country on “Let Me Down Easy” (featuring Amanda Shires),” and CSNY folk harmonies of “Mother Mountain” (with special guests the Wood Brothers), you’d be hard-pressed to find better or more varied guitar work in Americana music. “That’s one of my favorite things about Blackberry Smoke albums—there’s a lot of variety,” says Starr.