Album Review: Blackberry Smoke, ‘Holding All the Roses’

Written by Chris Osifchin


Blackberry Smoke’s latest effort, Holding All The Roses, offers a tried and true take on classic rock. Listeners won’t find a particularly groundbreaking sound on the album, but the Atlanta outfit has managed to put together an album with serious gusto and southern charm, mixing radio-ready rock ‘n’ roll with the twang of southern rock.

On the opening track, “Let Me Help You (Find The Door)” front man Charlie Starr’s first words are “Why’s it got to be the same damn thing/same damn song everybody wants to sing.” This is Blackberry Smoke’s thesis statement of sorts, as if to say the band is ditching the lessons they learned from their forebears to create something entirely new and original. Unfortunately, the band doesn’t quite live up to that ambition. Most of the album is comprised of the types of sounds previously crafted by the likes of Lynyrd Skynyrd and, more recently, The Black Crowes.

Though the band’s sound is not especially innovative or original, what is impressive, is the range they exhibit. From the radio rock of the title track “Holding All The Roses,” to the sweet swing of instrumental “Randolph County Farewell” and the jazzy Doobie Brothers vibe on “No Way Back To Eden,” the band is well-versed in the styles and sub-sets of classic Southern rock. They maintain a coherent sound throughout the album with just the right amount of variation to the sonic landscape to keep the songs sounding fresh and interesting.

Blackberry Smoke is a band that takes its cues from its predecessors. They clearly took lessons from rock and roll’s old faithful in crafting Roses. Atlanta based producer and resident rock and roll genius, Brendan O’Brien, notably responsible for albums from Pearl Jam, Bruce Springsteen, and The Black Crowes, has his fingerprints all over the tracks. He’s got the band sounding a lot like The Black Crowes here, particularly on the guitar work for “Payback’s A Bitch.”

While Blackberry Smoke’s fourth studio album holds up as an achievement for a band that’s been together more than a decade, the album isn’t able live up to the spirit of its opening statement. Starr sings, “they sell the same old faces with a brand new name,” but it’s like he’s singing about his own band.

Holding All The Roses is a serviceable record that will likely find a place on today’s rock radio. Just don’t expect anything new.

Rating: 6/10

Blackberry Smoke’s Holding All the Roses is available on iTunes or Amazon


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  1. The author if this review is not as familiar with Blackberry Smoke as he should have been time pen this article. Charlie Starr is a lyrical genius and the band once again delivered a masterpiece to it’s many loyal fans and the musical world.

  2. Brother I hate to tell you, but with this review, I think just stirred the hive with 17,000 brothers sisters. If you’ve listened to all their albums, you’d know how original they are. Everything from Bad Luck Ain’t No Crime and New Honky Tonk Bootlegs, to Little Piece of Dixie and the Whippoorwill. They are 100% real and original.

  3. Thank you for giving one of the hardest working and most talented bands out there a 6/10. But they truly deserve more. As evidenced by their new album hitting #1 on Billboards Country Album chart and #7 on Billboards Rock Album chart. Not to forget #29 on Billboards Top 200 Album chart – all genres. Perhaps you will change your interpretation of the first song off their album, “Let Me Help You (Find the Door), after watching this video.
    They are breaking through the dreck that is “Today’s Country” and bringing back what the people crave; real music from real musicians. Listen to their previous works and maybe you will reevaluate your opinion piece.

  4. Dear sir, a coupme things: there are five guys in the band, and to understand the progression of the band and therefore understand why this record sounds the way it does you need to listen to the entire discography of the band. That said, I understand that you’re not reviewing the band’s entire catalog of work.

  5. Hi Everyone – thank you for sharing your opinions on this review.

    While this was one of my personal favorite records of the year, I back my reviewer’s right to express his opinion. So that is why any comments that include name calling and foul language will be deleted.

    For those who have posted thoughtful and helpful comments (yes there were a few mistakes in this review that have been corrected, thank you for pointing it out), we appreciate you speaking your mind, even if you don’t agree with us.

  6. Chris, I would like to thank you for taking time to review HATR. I have found however that folks like you are quick to place BBS in a category with bands like Skynard and the crowes. I am sure BBS will always be flattered by this distinction by folks that have probably not listened to their full catalog of music? BBS is southern music I agree however they don’t make the same music as these other great southern bands. HATR is a very natural progression for BBS. and I for 1 welcome it. I would challenge you my friend to listen to their past albums and then listen to HATR in its entirety and review it again. I can’t say for sure but based on the review you might have only listened to the first few opening tracks and passed judgement.

    Thank you again and I am sure you are a busy man but please take another couple of listens and maybe a few listens to some other BBS offerings.

    Jay Christopher

  7. Charlie is singing about country nashville. Because its repetitive crap, that’s all the same with a different face. Do some research.

  8. The whole point Charlie was making thumbs his nose at the whole notion the band and their musical identity should fit neatly into any one radio format or genre. Unlike ANY of the bands the reviewer cited as influences on BBS, they have never strayed from their true roots which encompasses many genres including Southern Rock, Metal, Southern Gospel, Bluegrass, Jazz and Blues. This reviewer misses the point. And the boat. BBS is navigating a music business landscape very different from the heyday of Southern Rock where mainstream radio success was more easily attained. And, yet, they stay true to their calling in spite of it. So understand that before saying they are “singing the same damn song.” Turn on your radio and you’ll know what I mean.

  9. Before including their first several albums amongst their top 500 of all time, Rolling Stone magazine infamously panned all of Led Zeppelin’s initial efforts. Not to necessarily put “HATR” in “IV” territory, but it is painfully apparent the reviewer here was underprepared and perhaps a little too WiKi heavy on his succinct dismissal of what may very well likely go down as one of the stronger “rock” albums of the year. Opinions are just that, but better research does tend to greater credibility. Best!

  10. It’s pretty apparent this reviewer really missed the point of “Why’s it got to be the same damn thing/same damn song everybody wants to sing.” It has nothing to do with their “forebears” that they gained influence from.

    And his premise in the last paragraph makes no sense at all. If he read what he wrote, he’d notice it pretty much contradicts itself. “The sell the same ‘ol faces with a brand new name.” Please, elaborate on who looks or sounds like BBS right now?

    We finally have a band that doesn’t sound like most of the crap that’s on the radio or TV. What Tawne said is right…real music from real musicians.

  11. I wish people would quit comparing them to Skynyrd and The Crowes. Every time you hear a rock band with a blues riff those are the only two comparisons you can think of. I was a huge fan of both of them growing up in the south. The Crowes had one good album and a bunch of junk after that. This is Blackberry Smoke’s 3rd solid album in a row and the first two weren’t bad either.

    As far as Skynyrd, they are nothing but a tribute band at this point and haven’t put out anything worth listening to since 77’. They had some great stuff but come on, these guy have their own sound and deserve to be put in their own category, not just continuously pushed into the shadow of a band that died almost 40 years ago by writers that don’t understand the difference.

  12. Ask yourself one question here Chris. In this day and age of sampling,dubbing, and outright plagiarism, how many bands are carrying the torch for the good old southern rock genre and still putting out original music? This album is pure Blackberry Smoke!!! Thumbs Waaay Up !!!!!

  13. This review is ONE person’s review only and EVERYONE has a right to their opinions. My opinion is the reviewer most likely listened to HATR once, if that. The comments about’s Charlie Starr’s lyrics,“Why’s it got to be the same damn thing/same damn song everybody wants to sing’ and “they sell the same old faces with a brand new name” shows that the review doesn’t even understand what Charlie is singing about. Let me help you – if you have listened to any “radio” music in the over a decade(s) be it,pop, rock, or country you might realize that the majority of it is, “the same damn thing/same damn song everybody wants to sing.” It is not artistry, it is cooperate manufacture CHEESE designed for sales. It’s just re-hashed topics, lyrics, melodies – nothing new or meaningful with integrity. Have you heard the mash-up country song of around a dozen artists where all their songs sound eerily the same? It’s corporate cheese – nothing substantial or worth remembering. And that was just one BBS song!! My suggestion? You should listen to BBS’s HATR several times, checkout their previous catalog and actual pay attention to what their songs are about. Yes, BBS has similarities to Lynyrd Skynyrd and The Black Crowes. They all fished from thew same pond (i.e. have a lot of the same influences). Also Lynyrd Skynyrd and The Black Crowes are very popular to this day. That is actually a compliment – I bet you missed that too!

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