Blackberry Smoke tell a veteran's tale on the poignant Ain't The Same

Blackberry Smoke
(Image credit: Jo Lopez)

Atlanta's finest Blackberry Smoke have released a third track from their upcoming album You Hear Georgia, the follow-up to 2018's Find A Light

New song Ain't The Same follows the release of the title track in February and Hey Delilah last month, and is a poignant look at the difficulties many US army veterans face once returning to civilian life. 

"I wrote this song with Keith Nelson after spending time with a friend who is a veteran and suffers from PTSD," explains frontman Charlie Starr. "It’s the story of a young soldier going from one battlefield overseas to another kind of battlefield at home, and basically being forced to deal with it alone." 

Nelson, former guitarist with Buckcherry, also co-wrote four songs on Find A Light: Run Away From It All, Let Me Down Easy, Nobody Gives A Damn and Best Seat In The House.

“Keith and I have been friends for 25 years or so,” Starr told Guitar World. “I met him back in the late Nineties, when Buckcherry were on their first southeastern tour. I saw ’em at a little bar in Atlanta and I was knocked out by how great they were. And we just became friends, because we’re both guitar nerds. 

"At some point he left Buckcherry, and he called me one day and he said, 'Hey man, you wanna write some tunes?' And I said, 'I would love to. That’d be great.' Because we’re coming from a very similar place. Not only as guitar players but the way that we grew up. There’s a lot of parallels there. 

"So we had a little long-distance writing session and before I knew it we had written six or eight songs. And then four of ’em I just took for myself! I said, ‘These would be really great Blackberry Smoke songs…’ ”

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, and features contributions from touring band members Benji Shanks (additional guitars) and Preston Holcomb (percussion).

The album 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).

You Hear Georgia is available to pre-order now, with bundles and limited edition vinyl available from Eyesore

Fraser Lewry

Online Editor at Louder/Classic Rock magazine since 2014. 38 years in music industry, online for 25. Also bylines for: Metal Hammer, Prog Magazine, The Word Magazine, The Guardian, The New Statesman, Saga, Music365. Former Head of Music at Xfm Radio, A&R at Fiction Records, early blogger, ex-roadie, published author. Once appeared in a Cure video dressed as a cowboy, and thinks any situation can be improved by the introduction of cats. Favourite Serbian trumpeter: Dejan Petrović.