CD Reviews

Lynyrd Skynyrd - 'God And Guns' Hot

Added by James Gaden     February 17, 2010    
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First new album for six years from the kings of Southern Rock.


With this being the band’s first new studio material since 2003, expectations are high, especially after the pre-release of the quite excellent ‘Still Unbroken’ single.

I have often rationalised that the band’s best days have to be behind them as most of the members of the band who wrote most of the classics are sadly no longer with us, although with the addition of Ricky Medlocke to the band things have certainly improved, as evidenced by the bands ‘Vicious Cycle’ release of some years back.

So where does this release sit? To be honest it’s the best thing the band has put together since the reformation in my opinion. The first thing most people heard was ‘Still Unbroken’ a chunky slice of hard southern riffing, with Johnny Van Zant showing off a voice which just seems to get better with age, the song has a modern edge but stays true to its southern roots.

Fans of Ricky Medlocke much like myself will be pleased to hear his and Johnny Van Zant’s vocals on the strangely autobiographical ‘Skynyrd Nation’, a song that leans a little to the Blackfoot sound and it’s a pity that Ricky does not get to sing more, but I would imagine this would take away the signature sound of the band too much.

Lynyrd Skynyrd have always had a down to earth philosophy to their lyrics and ‘Simple Life’ keeps very much in this vein, the song has a strong commercial edge and for some purists may be a little too far wide off the mark. What came to mind with a lot of this material is it comes across closer to the Johnny Van Zant band material of the past with ‘A Little Thing Called Love’ being a good example of this and features some fine guitar work from the boys. Saying that, the band have certainly mixed it up on this release. Take ‘Unwrite That Song’, which is a ballad, although not in the same vein as ‘Simple Man’, but sits closer to Aerosmith’s ‘Don’t Wanna Miss A Thing’, you can imagine lighters out in force for this one. Not a song I care for but well written all the same.

We get on more familiar ground with ’Southern Ways’, which is a more traditional song that touches on the themes of home life and has some lovely piano work from the late Billy Powell, and will keep old school fans of the band very happy.

The band throw us a curve ball with the strangely named ‘Floyd’, that brings to mind the band sitting on the porch laid back and playing their tune before the song changes to a sound like a juggernaut falling off a cliff. This may well be the heaviest song that the band have ever released, period, and bring to mind Black Label Society.

If like me you never quite took to ‘Vicious Cycle’s ‘Red White and Blue’, then ‘That Ain’t My America’ will probably go over most of us Europeans heads as well, the band have strong views and the band planned on putting the world to rights in this song. ‘God And Guns’ travels along the same path and does not pull any punches regarding gun law, some nice guitar flavours the song as it builds to the three pronged guitar attack we have come to expect from the band for the finale. If you were a fan of Johnny Van Zants’ solo work then you wont be disappointed as ‘Storm’ is very much in this territory and features some of his best vocal work since joining Skynyrd, and add to that some nice female backing vocal work from the girls, this song really works for me! Again, the music may be a little left of the centre for the purists, but for me is a standout track on this release and the band does have to move forward after all!

Bringing the CD to a close is ‘Gifted Hands’, by all accounts the last song the band recorded before Billy Powell’s passing, it’s about the man himself and is a moving heartfelt tribute to one of the men who sadly no longer walk the stage with Lynyrd Skynyrd.

Ray Paul


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