Black Stone Cherry may be known for modernising the southern rock sound, but for their new EP, they take things full circle and back to basics. Black to Blues is a celebration of the music that inspired rock and roll, but it's also delivered with the zeal and energy that you'd expect from a Black Stone Cherry album. In fact, it looks and feels exactly like one of their albums, so much so that the sound they have tapped into is an intrinsic part of their DNA.
It's perhaps unsurprising that many modern rock bands are going back to the roots of the genre and finding inspiration there - let's be honest once rock started wearing tights, make-up, big hair and generally showing itself up, there was really nowhere else for it to go apart from back to the beginning. With BSC channeling their inner bluesmen there is hardly a black cat bone between them and the blues-infused rock that was so alive in the late 60s and 70s at the genesis of modern rock such as Free, early Fleetwood Mac and Led Zeppelin.
The EP opens with the Howlin' Wolf track Built For Comfort, a track that has been in the bands live repertoire for a while, but this version backs off from the bravado and interpolates their dynamism with Wolf's smooth blues overtones. As Chris Robertson sings 'I was built for comfort, I wasn't built for speed...I got everything a good girl needs' you know that he's in it for the long haul. This tantric blues number is filled with red-blooded soul, even slowing things down midway to really make the song roll.
Champagne & Reefer is a celebratory paean to hedonism and good music given a swamp rock makeover. It's a monster track that sees the band working classic blues riffs alongside a hard rock juggernaut, pumping out guitar licks and percussive grooves as fiery as a Kentucky bourbon.
Like all the tracks they cover on the EP, Freddie King's Palace of the King has all the hallmarks of a traditional BSC track with all the swagger of White Trash Millionaire and Mary Jane. I Want To Be Loved is a vibrant addition to the album, played with the dexterity and subtlety that is so often missing when some rock bands attempt to take on the old masters. Hoochie Coochie Man sidesteps the original by opting for a dirty blues sound, replete with distorted guitars: it's a statement piece for the band. There's some top-drawer musicianship too with John Fred Young's powerful yet graceful drumming adding a texture of sensuality to the track. Within the stratum of the album is all the hallmarks of both southern rock and blues, from a delicious slide guitar to a raunchy harmonica and soulful backing vocals.
For a band who have never put a foot wrong in the five albums they've released, Black to Blues is the start of a new musical adventure for the band. It's clear that the making of this album has reignited a deep-rooted passion and the heart and soul of the music will definitely be incorporated into their albums for some time to come.
Groupie Rating 4/5