You can actually picture Blackberry Smoke playing these songs in arenas after a single spin of Like An Arrow, the songs are so meticulously crafted to sound absolutely huge. The strange crossroads we’ve arrived at though, is that most people see that as a bad thing nowadays. The notion of a band becoming successful is often met with derision, and accusations of a drop in quality to appeal to a wider audience. Here’s where Blackberry Smoke buck the trend though, as this is the sound they’ve always cultivated.
The gloriously smoky slow jam chorus of opening track ‘Waiting for The Thunder’ evokes images of Mountain, Skynyrd, whiskey and mutton chops; and if that sounds like your idea of hell, just don’t bother, because Blackberry Smoke only double down from here. ‘Let It Burn’ is a rollicking country-led stomper, the jangling keys throughout harking back to homespun musicians like The Allman Brothers Band (impressively, Gregg Allman appears on final track ‘Free On The Wing’) and Creedence Clearwater Revival. ‘The Good Life’ is a ballad that will no doubt spin pure gold should it ever hit American country radio, but that doesn’t stop it from being frankly quite dreary.
With ‘What Comes Naturally’ and ‘Running Through Time’, Smoke continue to wear their influences like badges of honour at the sake of originality. But this isn’t a genre concerned with originality, this is about writing the best harmonies, hooks and grooves; something at which Blackberry Smoke are incredibly adept. Title track ‘Like An Arrow’ only serves to prove this, with a shimmering chorus just begging to be sung in unison by a happy mob of drunkards.
The truth is that Like An Arrow really isn’t a difficult album to understand. This is meat and potatoes country rock, and your enjoyment will come from how much you enjoy the genre itself. A great alternative for anyone who find Black Stone Cherry to be entirely too schmaltzy (me), and a guaranteed hit at any whiskey based gathering or barbecue. In England. In Winter.
Also, there’s a track called ‘Workin For A Workin Man’. If you weren’t clearly evident on the target audience here, you are now.