Kenny Wayne Shepherd
added: 6 May 2014
// release date: 5 May 2014 // label: Provogue
reviewer: Andy Snipper
A new album from Kenny Wayne Shepherd is something to be cherished and one that features songs by the multitudes of superstars who have been his inspiration then it has every right to be even more so.
The album features songs originally recorded by some of Shepherd’s heroes such as B.B. King, Albert King, Bo Diddley, Stevie Ray Vaughan, Johnny "Guitar" Watson, Lee Dorsey and many other icons of the Blues and he has guest appearances from the likes of Ringo Starr, Joe Walsh, Warren Haynes, Keb’ Mo’, Robert Randolph, Kim Wilson (Fabulous Thunderbirds), Pastor Brady Blade Sr. and the Rebirth Brass Band to fill out his usual band of long-time vocalist Noah Hunt, drummer Chris Layton, a 2014 inductee into the Musicians Hall of Fame as a member of Stevie Ray Vaughan and Double Trouble, ex-Firm bassist Tony Franklin and keyboardist Riley Osbourn, whom Shepherd met while Osbourn was playing in Willie Nelson’s band.
What hits you immediately is just how loose and easy the playing is. Shepherd is/was a member of The Rides, the supergroup he formed with Steven Stills and Barry Goldberg (and whose album is still getting regular rotation chez moi) and he seems to have learned a great deal from playing with those masters – he was always a great guitarist but he has chops that never showed before.
Listen to a classic like ‘The House Is A Rockin’ – it rocks like a demon and the feeling of sheer joy leaps out of the speakers like a physical presence. Or the soulful playing of ‘Breaking Up Somebody’s Home’, steamy and dense with a guitar sound that backs up the vocals perfectly – just enough, no more.
Every track is a classic – the version of John Lee Hooker’s ‘Boogie Man’ takes his Chicago raunch into a Texas smoker and ‘Born Under A Bad Sign’ has all the raw class of B. B. King crossed with a Freddie King guitar sound.
Personal favourite is a killer version of ‘I Love The Life I Live’ – loose and sloppy but so damn funky.
A brilliant album and, for KWS fans, a real gem.
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