I’ve always been a big fan of the Black Crowes feeling they have the perfect tonal balance of raw rock attitude and down home southern hospitality. When Chris Robinson left the band in 2002, I was heart broken. I picked up his first solo album, 2002’s New Earth Mud, and while the voice was there it just came of a bit sleepy. As expected brother and guitarist Rich Robinson released his own solo album in 2004 called Paper and while the big riffs were there…let’s just say there’s a reason Rich isn’t the lead singer of the Black Crowes. The Black Crowes are truly a band where the whole is greater than the sum of it’s parts.
I just downloaded the Black Crowes latest, Before the Frost…Until the Freeze and have given it a few brief listens (no small feat considering the 20 track album length). The album is a rather cool concept as it’s a "live in the studio" album recorded with an audience present. In fact, the Crowes have really begun stressing the strength of their live performances releasing a live version of their last album WarPaint as well as selling downloads of their concerts (with archive shows from as early as 1996) at liveblackcrowes.com. Now I realize even in so-called live albums there is still a great deal of studio trickery to fix mistakes and sweeten the overall sound, but it’s extremely good to hear a band which doesn’t require quadruple tracked guitars and auto tuned vocals to get a point across.
Before the Frost…Until the Freeze is an interesting album featuring some of the rootsiest material the band has recorded channeling British invasion rock one minute and Mississippi country blues the next. Guitar tones are cleaner than one might expect from the Black Crowes often favoring chimey jangle than crunch. But in standard Crowes style, its the songwriting which drives the album with hooks which grab a hold of you and linger long after the song has ended.
For any fans of the Crowes, the album is definitely a worthy addition to your collection.