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Kenny Wayne Shepherd Band - 'The Traveler' Hot

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Written by Central Electronic Brain     September 16, 2019    
 
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A really easy album to listen to with a little something for everyone.

I've noticed that musicians born in "The South" often fall into a Venn diagram of Blues, Rock and Country, and some artists in particular move around within these loops. Kenny Wayne Shepherd is one such person; Wiki describes him as a Blues artist, a Country-loving friend told me that Shepherd is a favourite and I've seen him described as Blues Rock. 'The Traveler' is the intersection of the Venn.

'Woman Like You' is at the poppy end of the Blues Rock spectrum, it's one of those songs that will be on Southern radio stations' playlist during the summer and comes complete with an air guitar solo in the middle break. 'Long Time Running' veers towards Rock, it has simple yet stylish riffs and a screaming solo, and always stays just this side of losing it completely. Things move into a clearer cut Blues area with 'I Want You' which has jazzy brass backing and a subtle Queen-like stomping bass drum alongside a searing, picky guitar solo that schmoozes into a keyboard solo. In contrast, 'Tailwind' is sweetly acoustic and has deeper Country roots. Staying in the Country Rock area is 'Gravity' which is a solemn ballad.

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'We All Alright' has an oddly grammatical title and is tight, punchy and I love the piano outro. The album then comes to the perfect zen of Southern musicianship with a track that perfectly combines Rock, Country and Blues in the style perfected by Lynyrd Skynyrd; 'Take It On Home' evokes those imagined long road drives and skinny dipping in the Bayou. My favourite song is the cover of 'Mr. Soul', the opening beats are reminiscent of The Beatles and the vocal melody is pure Rock, but the brass backing is a sublimely Soul riff. I adored this track and my only "complaint" is that the female backing vocals could have screamed over the top of the solos and given even greater depth. 'Better With Time' is a jolly ditty and I suspect it will be a useful set filler, while the final track 'Turn To Stone' is an atmospheric Rock song with moody, meandering solos.

This album is more restrained and mature than previous offerings, and it seems deliberately so at times, occasionally feeling as if the whole band want to break loose and really let rip but are trying to be grown up – I don't think that will ever happen. 'The Traveler' is a really easy album to listen to with a little something for everyone.

Helen Bradley

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