BLACK STONE CHERRY – Between The Devil & The Deep Blue Sea (2011)
US rockers Black Stone Cherry are returning with their fourth album (counting their independently released 2003 offering Rock N’ Roll Tape) “Between The Devil & The Deep Blue Sea”.
It has been two and a half years since their last CD was released and in the meantime the band have spent the majority of that time touring the world on their own and supporting some of the biggest rock acts.
In the fall of 2010 the band left the comforts of their Kentucky home and entered the studio in Los Angeles with Howard Benson to record the new album — marking the first time they have recorded away from their southern comforts.
“Between The Devil & The Deep Blue Sea” boasts a winning eclecticism, stretching from melodic ballads to radio-friendly numbers that recall classic rock acts.
First single “White Trash Millionaire” gives a good indication of what the album as a whole sounds like. Black Stone Cherry have held onto their hard rocking southern swagger but have seasoned it with commercial catchiness and coated it with the melodic-but-beefy production that master knob-twiddler Howard Benson brings to the mix.
It definitely gets the album off to a slamming start and continues on into “Killing Floor” with guitars tuned down a bit and a vocally wide open chorus.
“In My Blood” slows the pace down just a bit, but not too much. It borders on a ballad lyrically but musically is pretty ballsy.
I don’t think that the band gets as much credit as they deserve for their musicianship but the acoustic fretwork displayed during “Won’t Let Go” is on par with some of the best.
While nearly every track is good, there are some standouts, with “Blame It On The Boom Boom” perhaps being the best of the bunch. A head-banging hard rocker that sounds like Aerosmith on steroids with its lyrical tongue planted firmly in cheek features a down ‘n’ dirty riff punctuated by all the “Yeah, yeah!” gang vocals you could ask for. The chorus transcends commonplace catchiness and bounces straight into totally infectious territory, the sizzling guitar solo the icing on the rock-and-roll cake.
“Like I Roll” is my pick for favorite song on the album. It is a feel-good up-tempo song with a catchy chorus. It is a masterpiece of a tune in its genre and could easily have been a rocker John Mellencamp or Bob Seger anthem back in the day.
“Can’t You See” is a cover of The Marshall Tucker Band’s track. They did the track justice, beginning with some southern-fried intensity before bursting into a big mid-tempo anthem.
“Let Me See You Shake” resurrects the party-rock vibe with another raging riff guaranteed to get your body moving just like the song demands.
The perfunctory power ballad makes an appearance with “Stay” which features clichéd ‘lost love’ lyrics but is saved by some impossible-to-resist hooks.
Following this display of the band’s softer side, they crank things back up with “Change” the heaviest song on the album, the vocal breakdown over the solo section is a nice touch and John Fred Young channels his inner John Bonham with some sledgehammer-esque drumming.
This Special Edition includes 3 bonuses, “Staring At The Mirror” is southern modern hard rocker with attitude, a strong guitar riffing based track including a screaming wah wah.
“Fade Away” is another semi-mid tempo ballad with really good vocals, while “Die For You” is a bit dark sonically and modern during the chorus.
With “Between The Devil & The Deep Blue Sea”, Black Stone Cherry has progressed in all areas, from songwriting to musicianship, and their harmonies are definitely a notch above what they’ve delivered in the past.
It’s commercial while still being totally ballsy; the band may have gone catchy, but they didn’t cut off their edge to do it, without turning into a ‘radio only’ band.
They still groove and rock with the best but are not afraid to pick up an acoustic and show a lil’ Southern fried soul.
Production on “Between The Devil & The Deep Blue Sea” is stellar, big and meaty. The band is sounding better and better with each passing gig and album.
Crank it to 10.
01. White Trash Millionaire
02. Killing Floor
03. In My Blood
04. Such A Shame
05. Won’t Let Go
06. Blame It On The Boom Boom
07. Like I Roll
08. Can’t You See
09. Let Me See You Shake
12. All I’m Dreamin’ Of
Special Edition Bonus Tracks:
13. Staring At The Mirror
14. Fade Away
15. Die For You
Chris Robertson – vocals and guitar
Ben Wells – guitar and vocals
John Lawhon – bass and vocals
John Fred Young – drums
Howard Benson – keyboards
Lzzy Hale – background vocals
BUY IT !