Join The Traveler with Kenny Wayne Shepherd

The Traveler out 31st May Mascot Label Group

Having spent 20 plus years building up a reputation as a sizzling blues guitar player, and successfully filling the gap left behind following the sad departure of SRV, Kenny Wayne Shepherd has begun to broaden his appeal beyond the narrower field of blues rock to a wider audience with another set of excellent songs that follow and build on the success of his last studio album, “Lay It On Down”, which offered similar crossover attraction.  The formula is simple, write a bunch of songs that catch the listener’s interest with a guitar or vocal hook in the opening bars, follow quickly with a strong catchy melody and almost instantly go into a powerful chorus that gets repeated frequently and makes you wish you were in the audience singing along with it at a gig (very possibly while punching the air) and before you can catch your breath, bam, KWS is blowing your socks off with some typically creamy soloing that alternates between those searing single, sustained and bent notes (Albert King played through a SRV filter with some Louisiana sauce on top) and flurries of impossibly quickly played notes that take the numbers to a different dimension.  Repeat 10 times and you have a hit album, easy peasy!

 Of course, given that “The Traveler” is head and shoulders above many similar offerings, it clearly is not so straightforward.  Not many artists are able to write and arrange songs that leap off the turntable/CD compartment/streaming facility output (hopefully not through a pair of cheap bud headphones) like opening number “Woman Like You”  and which have an instantly recognizable vocal hook that you’ll be humming to yourself unconsciously as soon as you stop playing the album;  a strong guitar shuffle backing, a big chorus and red-blooded lines like “make a Southern man put you in a song” all add to the heady mix.  In a strong collection of songs there is no single track that really sticks out; they’re all pretty darn good.  “I Want You” is probably the closest to a straight blues number, opening with that “We Will Rock You” boom, boom boom chick drum pattern that Chris Layton pounds down throughout the number while a horn section blows the chords in the background and KWS solos extensively throughout. “Tailwind” is going to be a big live favourite, offering an anthemic chorus in a song that sounds like a big country/pop crossover type hit number (lighters/iPhones aloft for the festival rendition).  “We All Alright” bangs along at a clip like a supercharged Texas shuffle energized by power chords and providing another memorable chorus sung by KWS, who shares vocals on this one with the estimable Noah Hunt.  “Take It on Home” is a nice slice of Southern rock, opening quietly, hammered guitar notes over sustained organ chords, before getting right into the chorus as the sound amps up to 10 (not quite 11).  This almost sounds like a Cadillac 3 song (who have a similar penchant for catchy grooves).  The souped-up cover of Buffalo Springfield’s “Mr Soul” with a horn section echoing the guitar riff (and emphasizing its similarity to the riff from “Satisfaction”) offers something a little different (or putting it another way, doesn’t 100% chime with the feel of the rest of the collection).  A strong cover of Joe Walsh’s “Turn to Stone” closes the set and gives the band leader a chance to show off his guitar chops; if you didn’t know who this was by you could be forgiven for thinking that you were listening to some cut from the 70s (which is a compliment!).  There you have it, a fine addition to your general music collection (very nice artwork on the cover as well) that also happens to be a great guitar album.

NINEpawprint half inchdoodle paws out of TEN …

Tracklisting

  1. Woman Like You
  2. Long Time Running
  3. I Want You
  4. Tailwind
  5. Gravity
  6. We All Alright
  7. Take It On Home
  8. Mr. Soul
  9. Better With Time
  10. Turn To Stone
Join The Traveler with Kenny Wayne Shepherd
Purchase the album HERE

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