Black Magnolia, Fields Are Burning (Independent)

Black Magnolia, Fields Are Burning, album cover

Not all records have to be innovative or forward-thinking. Blues and jazz have worked in their unique ways for 100 years, and hard rock as the type that Baton Rouge’s Black Magnolia throw down on their new CD has worked its magic for almost 50—and it works for them too. This trio plays with an edge and swagger that meshes well and doesn’t overwhelm their playing. There’s attitude, but it’s not all attitude. Vocalist-guitarist Adam Pearce has a powerful voice with a slight rasp, and he uses it well whether pleading on “Show Me Who You Are” or defiant on “Throw It Away.” It comes in on the verses and soars in the choruses like Chris Cornell, but with a little Roger Daltrey when Pearce keeps it in his lower register. Instrumentation also melds the modern and the classic—relentless drums and strumming acoustic guitar a la the Who that dive deep into grungy riffs that would make Soundgarden proud. Other deft touches include the Slash-esque lead and mid-song jam of “Nature of the Beast” and guest Randy Jackson of Zebra’s heavy solo on “Apocalypse.” Musically, the record is great. The lyrics don’t measure up, however—attempts at profound statements that come off largely vague with obvious rhymes and mixed metaphors. Still, as hard rock slogans for the band to shred to, they work just fine.