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Blackfoot - Southern Native

Southern Native
by Paul Carr at 13 August 2016, 12:27 PM

Blackfoot is a band that refuses to die. In this, their latest incarnation, they have been assembled by long-time founder of the band Rickey Medlocke to continue the band’s legacy. Anyone expecting a slice of Southern rock will be shocked by hard rocking opener “Need My Ride”. It’s a rousing beginning which would fit nicely on a Slash solo album. The song is an absolute rush and begs to be blared out of a convertible's sound system speeding down a highway. The guitar work is nothing short of jaw dropping.  However, while the vocals are serviceable, they need a bit more heft. What the band needs is a Steven Tyler figure with a distinctive range.

“Everyman” is a bluesy ballad that bears more than a passing resemblance to Pearl Jam’s “Yellow Ledbetter”. Nonetheless, it lacks the punch of that band and soon overstays its welcome. “Call of A Hero” changes things up a bit with a Tom Morello-esque riff. The vocals here are a lot more colourful, recalling Daniel Johns of SILVERCHAIR. Both this song and the song “Satisfied Man” draw in harder rocking influences rather than relying on blues rock. It adds some much needed variety to the album. The lyrics themselves can sometimes lurch too far towards pastiche. “Take Me Home”, “Whiskey Train” and “Satisfied Man” in particular tick about every single rock lyric cliché imaginable. Unfortunately, it sounds like many of the couplets were written using My Ladybird first book of rock lyrics’. They are undoubtedly a good time band and there is nothing inherently wrong with that. However, some of the hackneyed phrasing is cringe worthy. Lyrics such as ‘I live my life like a shot from a gun’ are jaw-droppingly banal. Surely there is no excuse for lyrics like that in 2016.

The less said about the cover of Neil Young’s “Ohio” the better. The original was certainly not crying out for a harder rocking version or an extended guitar solo. Once again, the vocals are just too bland to add much to the song. They lack the world weary, lived in experience of Young at his peak. Album Closer “Diablo Loves Guitar”, with its beautiful Spanish guitar flourishes, is a genuinely disarming instrumental. It bears little resemblance to what has come before save for a bluesy solo. It really is an exquisite way to finish the album.

Overall, this is a solid album and there is enough variety in the song writing to keep things interesting. The musicianship is top-notch throughout with the guitar work shining through.  Nevertheless, the vocals could do with a bit more swagger. A bit more sleaze to fit the mood created by the hard rocking guitars.  As a band, they have yet to find their true identity. There are too many occasions when they seem stuck between paying homage to the Blackfoot of old and forging their own path. This is clearly the case, when they incorporate more interesting guitar sounds and steer clear of some exceptionally trite lyrics.  Once they work out who they want to be, they are more than capable of producing something truly exceptional.

Songwriting: 7
Originality: 7
Memorability: 7
Production: 7

3 Star Rating

1. Need My Ride
2. Southern Native
3. Everyman
4. Call of A Hero
5. Take Me Home
6. Whiskey Train
7. Satisfied Man
8. Ohio
9. Love This Town
10. Diablo Loves Guitar
Tim Rossi - Guitar & Vocals
Rick Krasowski - Guitar & Vocals
Brian Carpenter - Bass
Matt Anastasi - Drums
Record Label: Loud and Proud Records


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