KENNY WAYNE SHEPHERD
" How I Go "
It's been about a year since Kenny Wayne Shepherd's Live! album, so the timing seems right to head back into the studio for a follow-up. What's immediately apparent is the fact that this band is becoming well seasoned, the songs are solid, and the playing is tight throughout. Noah Hunt is a very strong vocalist and Shepherd's open-minded guitar work is exemplary throughout.
Not surprisingly, high-speed antics ensue on the opening "Never Lookin' Back" that's reminiscent of a mid seventies FM rocker. The band sizzles on Lennon/McCartney's "Yer Blues," its clever ending should be a crowd pleaser for their live concerts. "Cold" is a sad love song, the lyrics: "When did it get so cold" tells the story, plus it exemplifies a burgeoning songwriting development by authors Shepherd and Zac Maloy. A.C. Williams' "Oh Pretty Woman" offers two pretty bluesy solos by Shepherd. Shepherd and Danny Tate's "Dark Side Of Love" is another blues based tune that has Shepherd in his comfy SRV zone; yet here, the horns add color to this hot number. "Heat Of The Sun" written by Shepherd, Tia Sillers, and Mark Selby is a slow burner that simmers especially when Shepherd unloads an unearthly sizzling guitar solo. Shepherd, Sillers, and Selby's "The Wire" makes for great driving music, just watch out for the men in blue. Another fine ballad by Shepherd and Maloy "Who's Gonna Catch You Now" offers smart solos courtesy of Shepherd.
The band even covers Bessie Smith's "Back Water Blues" that starts traditionally with just Riley Osbourn's piano and Hunt's vocal, but it doesn't last long, when the band kicks in this crew rolls! I'm not sure if Bessie would approve, but it sure feels good. The instrumental "Strut" singularly authored by Shepherd is a tour de force sort of country-styled roller where Shepherd's guitar flies. There's also four so-called 'bonus tracks" (never figured out why some bands call for "bonus tracks?) Nonetheless, two of these "bonus tracks" standout: "Butterfly" is another fast paced rocker where Shepherd roars in a Hendrix-like zone. The finale "Baby the Rain Must Fall" closes How I Go more softly than one might expect, but it's another well-crafted tune that works well and leaves a lasting impression.
Thought he's just 34, the road ahead of Shepherd and his band continues to look very promising. How I Go adds a strong chapter to the already fine discography of Shepherd's recorded body of works.
- Bob Putignano
Bob Putignano a senior contributing editor at BluesWax. He is also the heart of Sounds of Blues at www.SoundsofBlue.com. Bob maybe contacted at: firstname.lastname@example.org
Bob Putignano: www.SoundsofBlue.com