Despite the odd heavy shower and overcast skies outside the window, it is in actual fact summertime, and as everyone knows summertime is just right for good old fashioned rock 'n' roll! Sitting in the sunshine with a BBQ and cool booze, or on a summer road-trip, perhaps to the next big summer festival, you need some summer tinged rock, and Black Stone Cherry's new opus will fit the bill perfectly.
What sets 'Between The Devil And The Deep Blue Sea' aside from their previous works is the change of location for recording, choosing to record in Los Angeles with famed producer Howard Benson, rather than in their home town of Edmonton, Kentucky. Heavy touring widely across the globe has also allowed BSC to record a more universal album with open lyrical content and stories and themes easier to relate to outside of the South rather than much of their self titled's tracks which focus on local legends and stories. 'BTDATDBS' instead is more about their lives on the road and their experiences touring. This is most obvious on the nostalgia tinged 'Like I Roll', a heart felt ballad about life on the road and missing home.
With the presence of Howard Benson on production duties, with his mainstream pedigree, it could be expected that his influence would have made 'BSC' take another step toward an instant radio play feel, but surprisingly, at times this is grittier than 2008's 'Folklore And Superstition'. Album opener and lead single 'White Trash Millionaire' is the heaviest song they have recorded since their début, but is also (coupled with following track 'Killing Floor') the heaviest track on display here. Howard has allowed front man Chris Robertson to give his strongest vocal display to date, fully showcasing a gravelly style to the likes of 'White Trash...' and pure sincerity to the likes of 'In My Blood'.
Interestingly some other reviews have stated that this is a noticeably darker album than previous output, but for me this isn't quite the case either. Track number four, 'Such A Shame' tells a story about the death of a stripper who has faced a tough live, but this is the darkest song on here by a long way. There are a couple of truly clumsy attempts at making dirty rock perfect for strip clubs in 'Let Me See You Shake' and the cringe worthy 'Blame It On The Boom Boom', whoever allowed that title and chorus to make the final cut deserves to be taken outside for a stern word!
Here I have to make a confession...I am a lover of ballads, and for other ballad lovers there are a number of nostalgic, heartfelt and thought provoking numbers on display here. 'In My Blood' as mentioned before covers life on the road, 'Stay' is a beautiful number about wanting a loved one back that most of us can relate to, and album highlight 'Won't Let Go' seems to cover sticking together with a lover or even soul mate no matter what happens. 'All I'm Dreamin' does have an overly syrupy chorus that is even a bit much for me mind you.
Overall this is a highly enjoyable album and perfect for summer escapades in the gleaming sunshine. It doesn't break any new ground at all, it is just reliable Southern Rock made for this time of the year. Not a perfect by any means with some awful moments, otherwise this is a very decent album and should be blared out of plenty of stereos along with the sound of beers being opened and meat sizzling away on the BBQ.
Listen To: White Trash Millionaire, In My Blood, Won't Let Go