Blackberry Smoke have announced details of their seventh studio album. You Hear Georgia will be released on May 28, and is the follow-up to 2018’s Find A Light. The Atlanta band have also released a video for the title track.
"Lyrically, the song is about the South being misunderstood," says frontman Charlie Starr. "It’s obviously a rough and tumble world, and there’s a lot of bad people, but there’s a lot of good people too.
"It started with the idea of how people might have a pre-conceived opinion of you because of a thick Southern accent, then expanded into the reality of how some people just seem to have such a hard time getting along, thanks to political or religious views, or simply what part of the country you come from."
You Hear Georgia was recorded in Nashville with producer Dave Cobb, best known for his work with artists like Rival Sons, Chris Stapleton, Sturgill Simpson and Jason Isbel.
"He’s a very laid-back guy with excellent ideas, but he’s very enthusiastic about making music, and he’s right in there with you having a ball," says Starr. "He’s a calming presence and so knowledgeable musically, and he knows how to get what he wants in the studio. I don’t know if we could have made a record in 10 days with everyone, and that definitely speaks to Dave’s ability."
You Hear Georgia also features a guest appearance from country star Jamey Johnson, who previously appeared with the band on Yesterday's Wine, a track that originally appeared the 2010 reissue of the band's second album, A Little Piece Of Dixie. Johnson appears on Lonesome For A Livin’, while Government Mule star Warren Haynes joins the band for All Rise Again. Full tracklist below.
Background vocals come from The Black Bettys, who previously worked with the band on the live releases Homecoming - Live In Atlanta, Georgia (2019) and Live From Capricorn Sound Studios (2020).
Unlike many musicians, Blackberry Smoke have managed to keep up a respectable touring schedule over the last few months, playing a series of socially distanced live shows.
"We didn’t really have to discuss it much," Starr tells Classic Rock. "We had been sitting idle for so long, when the opportunities came along to do some socially distanced shows, we jumped at the chance, pretty much.
"The first few shows felt a little odd, to be honest. The audiences were much smaller because of regulations, and really far away from us, so the energy was completely different. Also, some of the shows were “drive-ins” so instead of a small sea of people, we’re playing for a small sea of automobiles."
But there was an upside, Starr reveals: "I think it reminded us that we genuinely love to play music together, no matter the situation. When you’re removed from the audience in that way, you wind up playing to each other a lot more. Making music with a group of people really is a living, breathing, beautiful thing."
Blackberry Smoke live dates (opens in new tab).
You Hear Georgia tracklist
1. Live It Down
2. You Hear Georgia
3. Hey Delilah
4. Ain’t The Same
5. Lonesome For A Livin’ (feat. Jamey Johnson)
6. All Rise Again (feat. Warren Haynes)
7. Old Enough To Know
9. All Over The Road
10. Old Scarecrow