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On 29th September 2009, Six years after Vicious Cycle, Lynyrd Skynyrd released their twelfth studio album "God and Guns", You may wonder why so long between albums, well a long break in between albums is nothing new for Lynyrd Skynyrd who have experienced more tragedy and heartache In several periods than most bands experience in their whole career. First there was the plane crash in 1977 which wiped out the original vocalist Ronnie Van Zant, Steve Gaines Cassie Gaines and assistant road manager Dean Kilpatrick, pilot Walter McCreary and co-pilot William Gray were all killed on impact.
Lynyrd Skynyrd just recently released their 13th studio album a week ago and whilst I got used to it and listened enough times to write a review of it I decided to review this album which is their previous release from 2009. It proved to be a return to form for the band after the six years between the albums and a lot of strife of the band.
**God and Guns**
This Lynyrd Skynyrd album features guest guitar from John 5 who has worked with the likes of Marilyn Manson and Rob Zombie in the past so this is a turn up for the books considering the different sound of the band compared to those. When I heard about the new album back just before the summer I was really pleased that there would be a new Lynyrd Skynyrd album out as I had never bought a new album from them before as I had come to love their music after the releases.
1.) Still Unbroken
The Lead single of the album is "Still Unbroken" which opens this of in an epic way with a barnstorming performance of up tempo Southern Rock. This track really sums up the band with the subject being managing to stay strong despite all the things that have happened. Given how many deaths and problems there have been in the band you really get the sense of this song. Great Start.
2.) Simple Life
Simple Life is the second single from the album and follows on as the second track, on the album. This is a slightly lighter hearted moment from the opening track. On Simple Life Johnny sings about the things in life that everyone wants, Family, friends and being able to kick back now and again and have a relaxed time. This is another great opening track.
3.) Little Thing Called You
Little thing called you is up next and this is one of the most impressive tracks on the album, It tells the story of finding out that your partner is cheating on you and your reaction to them and how you feel about them now having found out. This has the trademark Lynyrd Skynyrd flow and some great guitar work from Gary Rossington, Ricky Medlocke and Guest John 5.
4.) Southern Ways
Southern Ways is typical Southern Rock Skynyrd, It has a real feel good vibe thanks to the love of the Southern Life which really comes through in Johnny Van Zant's vocals. This has a superb flow and has a great piano part around the middle and the feel of the song is very similar to their classic "Sweet Home Alabama" This keeps up the very strong start to the album.
5.) Skynyrd Nation
Skynyrd Nation is a brilliant track with a tribute to the fans who they see when they arrive at a venue hours before the gig they are due to play. The guitar riffs are exceptionally catchy and the overall track is incredibly catchy. What they are saying is that the fans treat one of their concerts as an event where people get together before hand. Brilliant stuff.
6.) Unwrite that song
Unwrite That Song came about when they were going to the studio to write songs for the album and In response to Johnny, Gary Rossington said "yeah lets go unwrite that song" And they instantly thought wow, that sounds great,. Since I bought the album yesterday this is one track I have been playing so much. It's a brilliant ballad that is one of their best ever tracks. It tells the story of when you hear a song that is the same as what you were feeling but your relationship is over. Jerry Douglas does a great job on pedal steel guitar with this track and God and Guns.
Floyd changes the mood significantly with a really dark feel which features guest vocals from Rob Zombie who sings the chorus. This track is about a guy in a small town who everybody knows and knows not to mess with him. This has some great melodies and the bass part at the end of the songs is really interesting and a nice addition.
8.) That Ain't My America
"That Ain't my America" is a patriotic song with a difference, This sees Johnny Van Zant waxing lyrical that even though the band may not agree with a lot of things going on in America they still love their own country, This is a really impressive track and is not the first time they have had a song about their love for their country. A great flowing track.
9.) Comin back for more
Comin Back for more is an up tempo track with a more Rock feel than their usual Southern Rock, this sounds a lot like the material on their 2003 album Vicious Cycle. This has some great drumming and the guitar melodies are as good as ever. This carries on from the opening "Still Unbroken" about staying strong despite things going wrong in your life.
10.) God and Guns
God and Guns is a bluesy ode to god and guns about a man of modest means who swears by God and Guns and with guns not in a blood thirsty way but as a means of protection from intruders to their home. This is another very slice of Lynyrd Skynyrd rock and I really like the Bluesy slide from Jerry Douglas who is part of Alison Krauss' band.
Storm is up next and this is within the same subject as The opening "Still Unbroken" and Comin' Back in that it's about staying strong throughout the bad times as the good times will come. This is testament to the ability to get over bad times and stay strong because they sure have had some stuff to deal with in their life's and have stayed strong throughout.
12.) Gifted Hands
Gifted Hands is a great closer to the album, It has the trademark guitar work from Gary Rossington and great musical progression. This really shows their class as musicians and the orchestra provides a lovely addition to the track. This is a really great closer to the album and one of the top tracks on God And Guns. The guitar work from Rossington in particular is terrific and really takes the song to the next level.
Now we come to the end of my review of Lynyrd Skynyrd's twelfth studio album and it's fair to say that had the Plane Crash not happened there would have been more than 12 studio albums in 36 years but despite all the trauma's that they have experienced as a band they still remain all about the music even though there is only one remaining member in Gary Rossington, This music is unmistakably Lynyrd Skynyrd and Johnny Van Zant continues to be a great tribute to his brother. Many of these tracks stand up to other great work from Lynyrd Skynyrd.