April 4, 2024, a month ago

(Cuhmon Records)

Aaron Small

Rating: 9.0

review blacktop mojo hard rock


Pollen is the fifth full-length studio album from Texas-based blues rockers Blacktop Mojo, and this 11-song collection is overflowing with emotion. From romance to regret, vocalist Matt James passionately delivers lyrics about love and heartache, while guitarists Ryan Kiefer and Malcolm Booher truly make their instruments sing, with bassist Matt Curtis and drummer Nathan Gillis providing flawless sonic substructure.

Opening track “The End Is Gonna Come” welcomes listeners with a suave subtlety, hinting at what lies ahead, and simultaneously showcasing the ability of Matt James as a brilliant storyteller with imposing range. “Weary I Roam” is more upbeat and bound to bring ladies onto the dance floor. “I Can’t Tell” gives Seattle grunge a Lone Star State makeover and in doing so, is one of the catchiest tracks on Pollen. “Please Don’t Call” has all the earmarks of a great Alice In Chains song, whereas “Red Enough” is built upon endearing Southern twang that soars sky-high.

“Rise” is soulful and gritty, complete with great guitar work. Turn the volume up for “As The Light Fades” – a feelgood radio rock hit in the vein of Bob Seger. Unexpected and absolutely beautiful, “Something’s Changed” channels the spirit of gospel / R&B great Etta James. “Shoulda Just Gone To Sleep” is pretty close to country music, yet it works incredibly well. There are very few bands capable of successfully combining such diverse influences on one album; Blacktop Mojo are talented, terrific songwriters.

“Born To Lose” brings it back to rock ‘n roll basics, but album closer “Like Wild Horses” is an acoustic ballad to behold. Inspired by a breakup and the writings of Bukowski, gripping is the best way to describe the final track of a record built upon authenticity, experience, and the joy music provides.      


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