I've been a fan of Kenny Wayne Shepherd
since the very first time my dad played "Blue On Black" for me in the kitchen of my childhood home (there's rarely a time you'll see him cook without music). Kenny plays a guitar like few other modern rockers can, and every lick and solo he throws out comes with bitten lips and fiery soul that gives blues legends like Buddy Guy and Eric Clapton a run for their money. But it's not just about chops. Kenny Wayne Shepherd has been cranking out album after album of blues rock with since ‘95. He had his breakthrough hit in ‘97 with ...Trouble Is
and has continued to grow as a musician with an ever increasingly impressive repertoire of work in his discography as a blues songwriter and guitarist.
Not to say that he ever departed from the blues, but Kenny definitely branched out in 2004 with a harder, dirtier, rock n' rollin' slugger in the form of The Place You're In
, where Kenny took the reins of a frontman and came into his own as a singer. Since that album, he has taken a much more modern approach to his blues writing, likely due in part to the polarizing tastes of the early 2000s. But now, it's looking like we're about to see a reprisal of his old styles with all his new experience to draw from. On July 21st, we'll get to see the fruits of two years work with Nashville producer Marshall Altman, Stevie Ray Vaughan drummer Chris Layton, and all the other usual faces in Kenny's band of bluesy troubadours, in the form of Lay It On Down
Like he says in the video, this new album is all about life experiences, growth as artists, and returning to the places that make you who you are. The album's title track of the same name is a soft-strummed and gentle balladesque that sets the tone for the album as a tempering of Kenny's previously tumultuous and explosive voice from the last ten years since ...Trouble Is
. In all three preview tracks, you can hear the way his lyrics and his musical execution have matured; "Nothing But The Night" displays a newfound dynamic of repeated restraint and sweet release that culminates in some of the sauciest, sweetest lead guitar chops you'll hear this side of 2017; "Baby Got Gone" is just too catchy for its own good. I'm going to end up being sick of it playing on repeat, simply because of how masterfully put together it is, with every small part of the song coming together into a final product that Nashville's finest would be proud to have had a hand in. Just listen, and let the riffs just take you away with the wind.
We've got a lot of great albums to look forward to this year, but few have me as excited as this one does. I'll be marking next Friday on my calendar.