CD Review: Blackwood Creek “Blackwood Creek”

Kip Winger (of “She’s Only Seventeen” fame) has been a busy boy. Coming off an active solo career of more experimental and progressive music, he recently reunited with his old Winger bandmates to record two new albums. Now he’s quietly released a new CD with another reunion of sorts, this one with his brother Nate Winger and childhood friend Peter Fletcher. This band is Blackwood Creek, Kip’s pre-Winger band.

Kip Winger takes older age in stride – for instance, he changed the lyrics on a recent acoustic version of “Seventeen” to “She’s only 35”. With Blackwood Creek, he and the lads are out to prove they can still rock out like they did when they were kids. In fact, they seem to go out of their way to prove they’ve not lost that unruly inner child – they use “ass” in the lyrics, drop an f-bomb, and start the inane “Love Inspector” with a loud belch.

But to be fair, their new self-titled CD has way more pros than cons. I’ve not been overly impressed with the modern Winger material (“Karma” was pretty good, though) and his solo stuff bores me to tears. But Blackwood Creek is a true return to Kip Winger’s melodic rock roots. There are some winning melodies and harmonies on this record, and the most effective blend of acoustic and electric guitars since “Pull”. With few exceptions, these new songs take the best of his solo work (the lyrics and interesting chord progressions) and plop it into the best of his past work (catchy unadulterated rock).

Blackwood Creek blasts off with a thunderous opener, “Out In Outer Space”, a clear attention-getter. Next up is my favorite track, the instantly likable AOR dream, “Nothing But The Sun”. The band also does a more than respectable job on a few acoustic-driven, dark power ballads like “After Your Heart”. “Albatross” comes close to Kip Winger’s solo material, but this song has a memorable hook that makes you want to hear it more than once. “Your Revolution” and “Joy Ride” are also a kick to listen to. Overall, Blackwood Creek is a success – the guys are clearly having fun, they have a terrific chemistry, and most importantly, most of the songs are downright infectious.

iPOD-worthy: 1, 2, 3, 5, 6, 10

Blackwood Creek on MySpace.