When I was given the chance to do a review of the new Black Stone Cherry EP, I jumped at the chance. I hadn’t properly listened to these guys in ages (indeed, the last time was when they released Between The Devil & The Deep Blue Sea), so this would give me the chance to get back into a band that I, quite frankly, had neglected for too long.
I’ll be honest – when I started playing Built For Comfort, I had to quickly check to make sure that I was listening to the right group. I didn’t remember them having this sort of heavy funky groove going through their music. Is this really what I’ve been missing for these last few years?
Firing on Champagne & Reefer confirmed my suspicions. This was a band that, if I’d taken the time to actually listen to them instead of wandering off into the musical wilderness, I’d have actually enjoyed listening to. These feel like the sort of songs that you should listen to with a glass of Jack in one hand and a cigarette in the other. Listening to them with neither in hand feels, strangely, a bit wrong.
By the second song (the aforementioned Champagne & Reefer), it’s impossible not to pick up on the exquisite guitar playing. For songs that feels so laid back, the playing is surprisingly intricate. And that’s before we even come to the mouth organ on Champagne & Reefer. If I were to ask you to name five songs that contain a mouth organ, you might well struggle. Well, you can add this one to the list. And it would be towards the top of the list, as well, if you were to rank them in order of sheer awesomeness.
Palace of the King is, quite simply, one of those songs that will get you singing along and playing air guitar too. Granted, it’s not your typical air guitar – but that’s what makes Black Stone Cherry so good.
Hoochie Coochie Man, meanwhile, feels kind of sleazy, but in the best possible way. It has the sort of bass-line that just feels wrong, bur oh so right. It feels like the sort of song that would be the soundtrack to some sort of bar scene in a movie.
Having said that, as a combo with Born Under A Bad Sign (which immediately evokes images of Whitesnake), this is a brilliant way to move in to the tail end of the album. This is one of those album/EPs that, although it’s fairly short, feels like you’ve been listening to it for hours. In a good way. I found myself losing myself several times, getting caught up in the guitar work.
All of a sudden, we’re at the end. At just over two minutes, I Want To Be Loved is the shortest track on here, but it certainly packs a punch. This is the sort of track that wouldn’t have sounded out of place on the Blues Brothers film soundtrack – and that’s one of my favourite films.
If I’ve learned from this review, it’s this – even if you haven’t listened to a band in a while, keep track of them and check in from time to time. Yes, there’s the chance that they haven’t done anything new or exciting. But then again, look what’s happened to me with Black Stone Cherry – I’ve rediscovered a great band who were lost to me for no apparent reason.
If this is the makings of a new album, then count me in. And count me in for any gigs they do in Northern Ireland – I reckon they’d be epic.