Album Review: Black Stone Cherry – The Human Condition
It’s like coming home after a lengthy and troublesome road trip – you instantly know where you are with Black Stone Cherry. While it’s often said that change is the only certainty in life, there’s comfort in seeking the places, people and sounds that have kept us sane this far. Predictably the Kentucky quartet’s seventh album hasn’t veered too far from paths they’ve trodden before, but it’s all the better for it.
That said, The Human Condition shows the band aren’t blind to what’s been going on in our world. Even though frontman Chris Robertson says he kept his head down in the studio, focusing on the creative process rather than the news, it’s obvious that the outside world has permeated this recording. Opener Ringin’ In My Head, a typically raucous, soul-fuelled rocker contains edgy lyrics such as ‘I’m in a prison in my own land…can’t let these times tear us all apart’. Even though the bones of the song were glued together way before lockdown, its prescience sets the tone for the album.
Elsewhere, of course, there are flag-waving hooks, muscular riffs and perhaps best of all, some short but genuinely searing solos. Sassy second track Again burns heart-shaped holes in this manner, while Push Down And Turn drops in weighty, plunging guitars and finds Chris at his huge-voiced best. An unassuming, everyday kinda man, his talent rarely gets the credit it deserves.
While the freewheeling Ride and a bumper cover of ELO’s Don’t Let Me Down revisit the sunny, high-fiving vibe the band are known for, there’s nothing here that’s brazenly raunchy or celebratory. This time, everything seems more considered and appropriately applied. So welcome the Black Stone Cherry of 2020 – in touch with both the times and their own collective soul.
For Fans Of: Alter Bridge, Shinedown, Halestorm
The Human Condition is released on October 30 via Mascot.
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