Black­berry Smoke

The South­ern Ground Ses­sions

Classic Rock - - The Hard Stuff - Johnny sharp

South­ern rock­ers’ six-track acous­tic EP. It’s be­come com­mon prac­tice for artists with a loyal fol­low­ing to lure them into buy­ing an al­bum twice by reis­su­ing it months later as an ‘ex­panded’, ‘deluxe’ edi­tion. Black­berry Smoke have at least tried some­thing a bit dif­fer­ent, re­leas­ing an EP of five acous­tic re-record­ings of tracks from April’s Find A Light plus a cover of Tom Petty’s You Got Lucky, all recorded live in the stu­dio in the tit­u­lar Nashville fa­cil­ity.

Apart from the laughs and ex­pres­sions of ap­proval book­end­ing the takes, though, not much is new, and it’s not al­ways for the bet­ter. Med­i­cate My Mind ben­e­fits from a slightly slower, groovier tempo, but in other cases th­ese un­de­ni­ably strong, sim­ple songs sound much the same with­out elec­tric guitars. You can barely hear Amanda Shires’ sil­very har­monies on Let Me Down Easy, and the lush 12-string guitars of Mother Moun­tain sound rougher in a demo way rather than of­fer­ing ex­tra or­ganic edge.

Grounded, then, but also a lit­tle earth­bound.

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