Before the vocals kick in, you could easily think that the rumbling roll of first track Open Road from Blacktop Mojo’s debut I Am was a new number from Black Stone Cherry. Considering that Blacktop Mojo are from Texas, cite Skynyrd as an influence and list “wrestling gators” and “shooting the gun” as interests on their Facebook page, such a sound isn’t surprising.
But though most songs are heavy on the southern stomp, they also throw a few straight-up hard-rock songs into the mix, like The River. Frontman Matt James’ regional twang is a slight one, and he can belt out a melodic hard-rock jam just as well as he can go deep on the Dixie.
The songs are a mixed bag overall, but there is songwriting skill evident on I Am, and Blacktop Mojo occasionally hit gold, like with the powerful I Will Ramble On. Polished and well-produced, if you like Black Stone Cherry and 90s-onward Skynyrd, you’ll certainly enjoy Blacktop Mojo – though they won’t replace either of those bands in your collection. As debuts go, it’s damn strong./o:p