The Whippoorwill

Blackberry Smoke

The Whippoorwill

Though it's relentlessly compared to Lynyrd Skynyrd and The Black Crowes, Blackberry Smoke proves that it's more than just a Southern-rock nostalgia act with its third album (and the first for Zac Brown's Southern Ground label). The Whippoorwill is named after a bird that’s haunted country music since the genre’s inception. “Six Ways to Sunday” gets things cranking with bluesy guitar riffs, honky-tonk piano, and Charlie Starr’s vocals, which keep things sounding more naturally soulful than affectedly retro. Guitar strings twang and bend in “Pretty Little Lie,” a flirty serenade with descending chords and amorous lyrics. Some haunting old pump organ sets a melancholy tone in the moving “One Horse Town,” in which Starr sings about the downsides of living in a small town rather than romanticizing it through rose-tinted glasses. The title track is a similarly smoldering ballad played at the intimate pace of a slow dance. “Leave a Scar” works in hard-hitting country punk that would sit well on a mix alongside Hank III or Shooter Jennings. “Up the Road” closes with fiery guitar leads and gospel singing.

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