Slated for Release September 29, 2009
I have read so many opinions for so many years regarding the “original” Lynyrd Skynyrd vs. the “current” band, and my opinion has always remained the same. The original band can never be again. That ended in 1977. And from the time the street survivors reunited ten years later until now, it has always been a tribute to the founding father, Ronnie Van Zant. Countless personnel changes and tragic deaths have continued to take away band members until the only remaining original member is Gary Rossington. But does that make them any less of a band? I think not. They continue to fly the Southern flag, loud and proud, and the audiences still flock to their shows, even during the current economic recession. So all of that said, God & Guns has some mighty fine music on it. Not all of it, but most.
“Still Unbroken” is a catchy rocker for sure, although at first it sounds like more of the same Skynyrd we have been getting for twenty years. Still, it does sound mighty fine when played loud. Equally, “Little Thing Called You” is reminiscent of classic Skynyrd with some pretty nasty slide guitar thing happening.
Several of the songs sound like they should be on a Van Zant album (Donnie and Johnny) instead of a Skynyrd album. Songs like “Simple Life,” “Southern Ways,” “Unwrite That Song,” and “That Ain’t My America,” a song that could also feel at home on a Toby Keith record. Not that they are bad songs, they are just more straight up country (that is, country by today’s standards) than what Skynyrd usually delivers.
If there’s one song on the album that I just can’t stand it’s “Skynyrd Nation.” It reminds me of something KISS did called “You Wanted The Best,” kind of a self glorifying anthem. Not my cup of Jack Daniels, if you don’t mind. I didn’t get the liner notes with my review copy, so I have to wonder who’s on metal guitar. I know the guitarist from Marilyn Manson played on the album, for some reason.
I like “Floyd” quite a bit as a story song. It’s very different for sure, and the mere mention of “hell house” in the lyric is enough to perk up the ears of any Skynyrd fan. Oh, and “Comin’ Back for More” is a pretty rocking little song, as is “Storm.” Nothing to write home about, but still good.
The title track, “God & Guns” is a swampy little pro-gun, and I assume, anti-Obama song. I will avoid elaborating on any personal opinion here, but as a song, it rocks nicely from a soft swamp feel into a hard rocking close.
My favorite cut by far is the set closer, “Gifted Hands,” a great tribute to keyboard genius Billy Powell, as well as working folk everywhere and the God who watches over them. The song burns at the end with real “Free Bird” style.
For me, God & Guns will be remembered mostly as the last recordings of Billy Powell, as well as the swan song of bassist Ean Evans. One of the overall best Skynyrd albums in years.
-Michael Buffalo Smith