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Kenny Waine Shepherd Band - 'How I Go' Hot

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Written by Central Electronic Brain     December 08, 2011    
 
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Album by the acclaimed blues guitarist.

The first time I came across the acclaimed blues guitarist Kenny Wayne Shepherd was when I saw him support The Eagles at Wembley Stadium on their ‘Hell Freezes Over’ tour in 1996, promoting his own ‘Ledbetter Heights’ debut.I quite enjoyed his set, (helped somewhat by the beautiful sun that shined on London that day – remember that?) but when The Eagles came on and did a three-hour-plus set I sort of forgot about him – until this latest album dropped through my letterbox.‘How I Go’ is Kenny’s fifth studio album, not a hugely prolific output, his last album was back in 2007, but all previous releases have been commercially successful in his native America, selling well into the millions.

I’ll be honest, I’ve never really been too much of an out-and-out blues fan, preferring blues-based rock, so initially it’s the up-tempo rock of the Quo-sounding ‘Never Lookin’ Back’ and ‘The Wire’ that grabs my attention.However after numerous spins it’s the slower numbers that I feel seem to work the best, all delivered with a hefty Southern Rock influence, further evidence of how the lines between genres are becoming extremely blurred these days.For example, ‘Show Me The Way Back Home’ which segues into ‘Cold’, both have feel reminiscent of The Eagles, the former like their recent output, the latter harking back to the classic era, while the mid-tempo slow-burning ‘Anywhere The Wind Blows’ leans towards Lynyrd Skynyrd.Pick of the bunch though are ‘Heat Of The Sun’, a slow, mournful heart-wrencher absolutely drenched with emotional guitar work, and the tender acoustic-based ‘Who’s Gonna Catch You Now’ which is delivered as a duet between Kenny and his long-time vocal collaborator Noah Hunt.

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Of the more overtly blues-based numbers, ‘Come On Over’ rumbles along on a fretless bass groove from former The Firm and Blue Murder man Tony Franklin, ‘Dark Side Of Love’ heavily features a brass section, and ‘Strut’ is a fiery instrumental.There are three covers of blues classics contained within too, a storming version of the Beatles ‘Yer Blues’, the seven-minute-plus workout of Bessie Smith’s ‘Backwater Blues’, and Albert Collins’ ‘Oh, Pretty Woman’ which is good, but doesn’t quite have the same fire as Gary Moore’s version.And if that’s not enough blues for you, there’s also a special edition of the album with an extra four tracks.

For an artist of this stature, I’m not convinced that the production is good enough, it does sound a little muddy in places, but musically it cannot be faulted.I have no idea how big Kenny’s following is over this side of the Atlantic, but with the likes of Joe Bonamassa and indeed Black Country Communion currently creating huge waves, then there is surely an audience for him, if all his other albums are at the same standard as ‘How I Go.’ I’m certainly converted.

Ant Heeks

 

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