Black Stone Cherry Reveals "The Human Condition"
Edmonton Kentucky based quartet, Black Stone Cherry is giving everyone something that we all need in 2020. A kick ass new record. Following up their last efforts in Family Tree, Black Stone Cherry has something to say with this 7th studio album coming from Mascot Records/Mascot Label Group. Chris Robertson, Jon Lawhon, Ben Wells and John Fred Young, have been hard at work this year crafting songs and a sound that is sure to blow the roof off whatever you’re driving down the road. If you know anything about these guys, you can be sure the music will pulsate in your chest and have your head banging and your foot stomping.
The 7th studio record by Black Stone Cherry will lure you in from the start, not letting off the gas for a wild 13 track ride. This is a self-produced masterpiece written and recorded in the bands very own studio, Monocle Studios, deep in the heart of Kentucky, giving this one an even more personal touch that you feel right out of the gate. Multi-tracking everything in-house with the band side by side, you sense this one is personal and that there was a sense of organic and cohesive elements that are not lost on the band. In a world so jaded and filled with uncertainty, the band have come together after all these years and throw a curveball with The Human Condition. It’s a very heavy, dark and brooding album, filled with riffs out the ass. Tones so rich that your fingers just may have your volume dials stuck on 10. Let’s be honest, that’s how BSC records were meant to be played.
So Push Down and Turn the volume up as we break down this new record! This is The Human Condition album review you’re looking for. Track-by-track.
‘Ringin In My Head’ is a southern sip of whiskey-fueled good times. From the opening beat right into the chorus, you can really feel each instrument kicking in, at every right moment, BSC has perfected that sound that music lovers crave, being able to clearly hear each member doing their thing. There is something to be said about this track that feels very 2020. As the lyric goes “the whole worlds been shaken”, a poignant statement for the current times and the song fills your chest with that sigh of “finally someone said it”, not to mention the badass riffs and blasting drums by Robertson, Wells and John Fred Young. This brooding song is the perfect start to The Human Condition!
‘Again’ Black Stone Cherry delivers a powerful punch with this single that has been playing all over rock radio waves since it’s release. With the makings of a song that will be stuck in your head not only all day, but forever,’ Again’ proves to be a callback to the roots of the band, providing us with the deep grungy southern rock sound we’ve all come to love with that same BSC flair. This one will be fun to see live from small venues to arenas. The guys have struck gold with this one.
‘Push Down And Turn’ might be one of the heaviest songs to date by the southern rock quartet! It has all the grit and demeanor of a powerhouse-face-melting track that you want from a band like Black Stone Cherry. The way this one was put together in the studio has stank face written all over it. Around the 2:20 mark you will be blown back into the seat of your chair with your face flapping! Push Down And Turn the volume up on this one, strap in and prepare for a good damn time.
‘When Angels Learn To Fly’ opens up with sizzling guitar work and leads into a ballad that really draws the listener in and grips them by the emotions. You can hear the pain in Robertson’s voice with this touching tribute of a song. Music has a way of healing hearts when we experience loss in our lives and this song is one to add to that list if not the very top of it. Well put together and perfectly executed, When Angels Learn To Fly will definitely be a song people will play on repeat when they want to feel close to a loved one when they’ve flown away.
‘Live This Way’ is a blistering track from the Kentucky legends that starts with a bang and doesn’t pull any punches. John Fred Young hammers down behind the kit while Robertson and Wells shred the shit out of their guitars proving that global pandemics can’t stop this band from throwing down the damn thing. It should also be noted this is a stand out track for bassist Jon Lawhon. Lawhon really walks the dog here on this track, stepping into the fray. This isn’t the only one on the Human Condition where Jon stands out on either!
‘In Love With The Pain’ is a red-hot single that sounds like it could branch out across multiple radio stations, covering that down-home rock sound with a blend of blues and a splash of country. A perfectly crafted brew of guitar work with the right amount of lyrical hooks, this song will be on your dirt road playlists for the next several years for anyone who’s familiar with the pain that comes along with loving somebody.
Black Stone Cherry - In Love With The Pain (Official Music Video)
‘The Chain’ is off the chain. I said what I said, Robertson and company snuck this track in right after a nice soft tune that starts out nice and steady and then smacks your right upside your head. This is the Black Stone Cherry you all know and love, with no apologies. Robertson’s voice blasts out with that whiskey coated goodness that only his voice can do with some delicious melodic moments in between and then a badass breakdown right towards the 2:10 mark that will have your damn head banging. This will be one that you’ll want to see live!
(Left to right: Ben Wells, Chris Robertson, Jon Lawhon and John Fred Young)
Get ready for a ‘Ride’ with the 8th track on this blistering 13 song release. BSC takes you on one with this fun song. It takes you on a wild ride to riff-city, blowing your hair and face back with an almost 80’s feel to it that only these guys could put into a record and it make perfect sense. Ride is the slice of rock-n-roll heaven to follow up a song like The Chain that you didn’t know you needed and fits this record so well when you consider the year we are all faced with. What a wild ride 2020 is! At least we have a new Black Stone Cherry record to get us through it.
‘If My Heart Had Wings’ it would soar like this song. This is probably one of the most well written, executed songs I can remember from the guys (and they have a catalog of them). This one has more raw emotion and passion than I expected from the music industry this year. One that I feel is needed in our day and age. Let’s face it, everyone has had that cross to bare when it comes to losing someone we care deeply about. BSC has crafted a ballad of all ballads. Robertson’s vocals soar to new heights and you really feel it when he says “I’d rise above all my mistakes”. This one will stick with me for a good long while.
‘Don’t Bring Me Down’ is—-hang on! Someone tell Black Stone Cherry that they need to warn people that they may go into cardiac arrest when listening to this record. I was NOT expecting a cover on this record and I very much was not expecting this one originally done by ELO (Electric Light Orchestra). This was a fun surprise of a nugget! Talk about having fun, this was the cover I never knew I needed from the band and I am fine with it. Black Stone Cherry manages to impress yet again by covering this late 70’s classic.
‘Some Stories’ is a tasty rocking piece of work that has everything you want out of a BSC tune. From swelling guitar work to John Fred Young’s animalistic playing behind the kit, all the way to Lawhon’s frenetic bass skills. This is a straight-up jam that will surely blast you into orbit and “make you land on the moon”.
‘The Devil In Your Eyes’ makes you think you’re getting one thing and gives you another with how it opens, leading into the opening verse. Smoothly transitioning into this blend of calmness and pure in-your-face-melting music. I’ve got this feeling that you’ve NOT lost me again with a tasty ass track that really puts the frontline of this band’s talents, on full display with the drums keeping it all glued together.
Black Stone Cherry - Live at the Manchester Music Hall in Lexington, KY in 2018
In a year of absolutely nothing, you got to just ‘Keep On Keepin’ On’. I feel like someone named Joe may have said that over 10 years ago (who knows). “Life’s a garden man” and I dig where this song is going. In their final track the band has something to say and no global pandemic is going to knock them out of contention for one of the best records to come out in 2020. I would be bold enough to say possibly one of the best of the last few years. Keep On Keepin’ On, rock on and blast this new record!
The year 2020 will make a lot of people cringe when they hear that. We also should be reminded just how lucky we are to have the one constant in our lives. Music. Music has always been a beacon for people who are looking to either grieve, celebrate, rock, dance or just take their mind off of life for the time being. For others it’s a way of life. Black Stone Cherry has crafted music that fits just about every mood and every emotion. The Human Condition is the perfect way to celebrate humanity and the best aspects of it. Buy this record and crank it to 10!
Interview with Chris Robertson