The first few bars of Lynyrd Skynyrd’s latest album, “God and Guns,” don’t really sound like the same group that gave us “Sweet Home Alabama,” “Freebird” and countless other classic rock hits.
Given that those songs are decades old, a shift in songwriting style and musicianship is natural.
But in this case, it’s not for the better.
By the time this record is finished playing, the listener is overwhelmed by country licks that are well-polished if fairly generic. And depending on where you sit on the political scale, the right-wing dogma that’s propagated by this album (with a name like “God and Guns,”one can guess without hearing a single song what the group’s message is) will either leave you sick to your stomach or ready to march on Washington, rifle in hand.
The album’s title track, as one could guess, rambles on about how guns are a part of this nation’s fabric. “Well, we might as well run if we let them take our God and guns,” lead singer Johnny Van Zant proclaims near this tune’s chorus.
This song is by far the most politically leaning, but the rest of the record sells a similar down-home country message. “Floyd,” with its rambling acoustic guitars, sounds like it was meant to be on the “Deliverance” soundtrack. “Simple Life” and “Southern Ways” lighten the mood quite a bit, offering feel-good messages that can be heard on just about any song you’ll hear on country radio these days.
On its own, “God and Guns” isn’t horrible. But there’s nothing about this album that defines it as Lynyrd Skynyrd, nor is there anything to distinguish it from all the other country fare out there (the opener, “Still Unbroken,” might as well be credited to Toby Keith). Diehard Skynyrd fans will probably like this album, as will mainstream country fans, but the rest of us better hope the band sticks to the old stuff when it tours. C+