When southern rockers Blackberry Smoke headed into the studio this past January, they weren’t trying to record an album, says frontman and primary lyricist Charlie Starr. “We were just staring down a month where we had nothing to do but be at home,” he says. They didn’t call a producer, just a sound engineer, and gave 15 songs Starr had written during the last tour a go. It didn’t take long before Starr knew they were onto something. “It felt right.”
“It” quickly turned into Like An Arrow, the band’s fifth studio LP and the most freewheelin’ collection of their decade-and-a-half career. Today, EW is excited to premiere “Let It Burn” off the set. With smooth, pop melodicism and danceable guitars, it’s an easy, irresistible highlight.
“It’s about a guy who has just had it with his hometown,” Starr explains. “He says, ‘To hell with it! I’m out of here!'” Listen closely and you might realize the problem isn’t his location as much as it’s him. “He might be a ne’er-do-well,” the singer admits. “Maybe he’s the one bringing this on himself — regardless, he’s leaving and he doesn’t care if the town burns to the ground.”
Raised in rural Lanett, Alabama, it’s a song that the frontman more than just relates to. “I know that guy,” Starr says. “In fact, I might have been that guy. A lot of people that I know, myself included, have blamed our problems on a place or a person or a certain situation. Sometimes you just can’t see that it’s your fault.“
The 42-year-old returns to Lanett on occasion. “It can be a great source of inspiration,” he says. “I get very nostalgic.” Seeing old friends, as well as random townspeople, he adds, “always seems to spark something in my imagination about, ‘What must he be thinking?'”
“Let It Burn” is streaming below. Like An Arrow, due for release Oct. 14, is currently available for preorder on the band’s website and iTunes. The collection follows 2015’s Holding All The Roses, which debuted at No. 1 on the Billboard Hot Country Albums chart as well as in the Top 10 of the Top Rock Albums chart and features Gregg Allman on the sing-along-ready album closer, “Free on The Wing.” The road warriors are currently touring – see the dates here.