Hailing from Edmonton, Kentucky, Black Stone Cherry are an American hard rock band that have been on the scene for the better part of sixteen years. Signed with Roadrunner Records up until 2015, they are now signed with Mascot Label Group with their upcoming EP Black to Blues as the second album that they’ve been involved with. Stepping away from their harder style of rock, after five critically acclaimed albums, Black Stone Cherry wanted the chance to pay homage to the Blues Classics that inspired, and continue to inspire, the band. “I know it’s crazy for four rock n’ roll dudes to make a blues EP, but it’s us sharing with everyone the music that’s been our DNA from day one,” Black Stone Cherry vocalist and guitarist Chris Robertson says. “Blues is the music we listen to when we sit around on the bus with a bottle of bourbon.”
Black Stone Cherry consist of band members Robertson (lead vocals/lead guitar), Ben Wells (rhythm guitar/backing vocals), Jon Lawhon (bass guitar/backing vocals), and John Fred Young (drums/backing vocals).
Black to Blues opens with the Howlin’ Wolf classic “Built For Comfort”. They manage to harness the track’s dark energy with the combination of foot-stomping riffs, smooth-as-whiskey vocals, and bursts of bluesy brilliance that will have you begging for more. Robertson’s vocals compliment the blues perfectly; the husky burliness that he lends, combined with the instrumentals behind him, not only transcend the track to heights that are surprisingly high for an opening track, but the EP as a whole is set up to be nothing short of musical brilliance.
The Muddy Waters classic “Champagne & Reefer” continues where “Built For Comfort” left off; packed with catchy riffs, heavy tones, and foot-stomping that is definitely going to continue throughout, so make sure you stretch up before listening to the EP! The instrumentals mesmerize with deft slide guitar, and the powerful contrasting of hefty, haunting dynamics. Vocally, it isn’t hard to distinguish that Robertson has a deep passion for the Blues, with the genre sliding perfectly into his back pocket.
The opening of “Palace of the King”, made famous by Freddie King, opens with the same dark energy that we’ve seen transfer between the first two tracks, and the transition continues to seamlessly pass its way on through here, also. The burly, earthy tones of Robertson’s vocal talents lend to this genre in such a strong demonstration that it’s surprising that Black Stone Cherry have waited so long to get in touch with their bluesy side. Instrumentally, they’re as solid as they’ve ever been, with the combination of wall-shaking riffs and solid drum work.
Just close your eyes, and let Black Stone Cherry transcend you to the spiritual place with “Hoochie Coochie Man”, the blues Classic made famous by none other than, yet again, Muddy Waters. Opening with a riff that hooks deep into your bones Robertson’s vocals, yet again complimented perfectly by the heavy tones of the instrumentals behind him, hit you right in your soul. Yes, that’s possible! The darkness that Black Stone Cherry bring to the Blues genre make it their own and not just a cover, but more of a re-imagining.
Once referred to as a “timeless staple of the blues” Black Stone Cherry’s rendition of Albert King’s “Born Under A Bad Sign” continues to further push the dark undertones that the band lend to the classic blues hits. Robertson’s vocal talents, yet again, further demonstrating not only range and diversity, but absolute brilliance. Packed with guitar riffs, and finger-plucking that will have you not just foot-stomping (but having you get up at your seat in hopes to put your feet through the floor), instrumentally the track is brilliant, also.
Rounding out “Black to Blues” with another timeless Muddy Waters classic, “I Want To Be Loved” is everything a blues track strives to be. Packed with instrumental bursts of brilliance, combined yet again with Robertson’s vocal talents, they definitely aimed to finish the EP off with a fireworks display that will eagerly have Black Stone Cherry fans biting at the bit to see what the band have in store next.
Black to Blues has been thrown together to help tie Black Stone Cherry fans over until they release their next studio album, however this EP is nothing short of brilliant. Robertson’s vocals lend another worldly feel to the Blues genre, while the instrumental combination of Lawhon, Young and Wells amalgamate into the dark tones that transform these Blues Classics into heavier re-imaginings. Whether they choose to continue to showcase the more bluesy side of themselves moving forward is to be seen, but should definitely be considered.
Black to Blues is available September 29th