Vanilla. Plain, simple, vanilla. That was my initial reaction when I first heard Black Stone Cherry’s latest album, Between The Devil And The Deep Blue Sea. And while I love vanilla in a dish of ice cream, I’m not crazy about it in my hard rock music. Something is wrong. This is Black Stone Cherry we are talking about. They are the perfect blend of southern rock and modern flair. These are the guys that recorded “Drive,” one of the best new rock songs to come out in years. This is the band that was set to take the world by storm in 2011. What the heck happened?
Don’t get me wrong, Between The Devil And The Deep Blue Sea isn’t a bad album. Actually, this record is quite good. However, it’s not a good Black Stone Cherry album. They’ve gone from southern rock with a modern flair, to modern rock with a twinge of southern flavor. That’s not the formula that put this band on the map, and it’s not the formula I was expecting to hear upon the release of Between The Devil And The Deep Blue Sea.
Yes, I know that bands change and evolve over time. I know that if a band produces the same album year after year, they stagnate and turn into Nickelback. Yet, evolution is a slow moving process that happens over time. To go from Folklore And Superstition to this is quite a fast turnaround and a complete about face from what they once were. Again, Between The Devil And The Deep Blue Sea isn’t a bad record, but it’s hardly a Black Stone Cherry album.
My biggest concern with this album is that Chris Robertson doesn’t sound like Chris Robertson. What attracted me to Black Stone Cherry in the first place was Robertson’s deep, gravelly voice. It was such a unique sound---a voice with power, a voice that fit perfectly in the style of southern rock that Black Stone Cherry was performing. Now, Robertson’s vocals sound like every other modern band that can be heard on Octane. His true voice does not appear often on Between The Devil And The Deep Blue Sea.
The other area where improvement would be welcomed is the style of music. This is not southern rock done in the modern style. This is not even modern rock done in the southern style. The only southern flair on the entire album is a cover of The Marshall Tucker Band’s “Can’t You See.” And while their cover is a solid one, it’s still a cover. How can a southern rock band only sound southern on a cover song? What was producer Howard Benson thinking when he gave the thumbs up to the final masters?
Overall, Between The Devil And The Deep Blue Sea is a solid album, but it lacks the unique flair and style that fans have come to love from Black Stone Cherry. Will you be disappointed if you buy the album? Absolutely not. However, if you are buying this disc expecting to hear the style of Black Stone Cherry that put the band on the map, then you will be in for a letdown. If you get the album just wanting to hear some good modern rock, then you will be very happy.
Ryo’s Rating: 6.5 (out of 10)
White Trash Millionaire
In My Blood
Such A Shame
Won’t Let Go
Blame It On The Boom Boom
Like I Roll
Can’t You See
Let Me See You Shake
All I’m Dreamin’ Of