Kenny Wayne Shepherd Band - 'Lay It On Down' Hot

Added by Central Electronic Brain     December 29, 2017    
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A collection of tunes that are bereft of fluff and affluent with exquisiteness – a fancy way of saying all killer, no filler.

Too many guitarists fail to recognise the bigger musical picture. Sure, they can shred along to a metronome at a million miles an hour and dazzle with ridiculously overdeveloped skill-sets, but bothering to write a great tune never crosses their misguided minds. This is one reason why Blues Rocker Kenny Wayne Shepherd is a multi-million selling, highly respected artist while those aforementioned bores remain deservedly unknown.

The Louisiana native's scorching six-string sorcery may be his calling card, but he's always expressed it within the kind of emotionally vibrant and well-crafted songs that offer infinitely more satisfaction than you'll ever get listening to technically indulgent show-boaters. That said, when he began working on this release, Shepherd was determined to push himself even further as a song-writer. The end result is a superlative album that ranks as his most consistent and stylistically varied to date.

In contrast to 2014's traditional Blues covers effort 'Goin' Home', 'Lay It On Down' is a modern sounding peach that's packed full of mouth-watering melodies, tantalising instrumental flair and some delectable fresh flavours. 'Diamonds And Gold' mixes vintage styled Muscle Shoals Horns with contemporary Rhythm & Blues grooves and funky streetwise vocals, whereas 'Nothing But The Night' possesses AOR atmospherics, a wonderfully infectious chorus and vivid imagery about spending a carefree sundown out on the town. 'Hard Lesson Learned', meanwhile, offers heartfelt Country balladry and 'Louisiana Rain' is a reflective slice of Americana.

Old-school fans needn't worry because, in spite of those sharp new moves, the likes of 'Baby Got Gone', 'She's $$$' and 'How Low Can You Go' deliver plenty of Bluesy Rock 'n' Roll brilliance, while 'Down For Love' finds him channelling Stevie Ray Vaughan and cutting loose with a solo that's so flammable you can almost hear people rushing to grab the nearest fire extinguisher.

If 'Lay It On Down' was released when albums were pillaged for as many hit singles as possible, every one of these gems would sound perfect on the airwaves due to imperiously sculpted hooks that are rendered magical by Kenny Wayne Shepherd and Noah Hunt. They may split lead vocal duties roughly down the middle these days, but their harmonies are sublime and further elevate a collection of tunes that are bereft of fluff and affluent with exquisiteness – a fancy way of saying all killer, no filler.

Simon Ramsay

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