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Shepherd, Kenny Wayne: Lay It On Down

It's been a long time coming, Kenny Wayne Shepherd not releasing a solo album since 2014's Goin' Home; the guitarist and singer concentrating on The Rides in the meantime. So with high expectation and much anticipation, Kenny is set to Lay It On Down, his mix of the blues, country and melodic rock riding a wider wave of success that it maybe was when he was last with us. Everywhere you turn there's a new kid with an amp and a mic hollering out choruses and ripping out solos, and turning the screw on the more established names as they do so. Not that you'd guess from the assured nature of this album, the guitar playing it contains and the catchy, memorable songs that it easily slips out, sounding honest and relaxed. "Nothing But The Night" drives intently, but with one arm out the window, beckoning the breeze and lapping up the sun. A Satriani like parry of guitars playing against a popping beat and smooth solo, Kenny's keen vocals drawing you in and hugging you tight. Oddly, "Diamonds And Gold" possesses the same lilting rhythm as "Shine" by Take That, but with a gentle wah-wah'd solo and stabs of brass this ain't no pop pap and there's no doubting how long it sticks in the mind.

The album's title cut cradles a country heart, reminding of Blackberry Smoke as it does so, while "She's $$$" combines that same ethos to a far more authentic blues strut, getting the whole joint a rocking and a swaying in the process as a Billy Gibbons alike solo proves a real joy. "Hard Lesson Learned" adds a more commercial, almost power ballad sheen, "How Long Can You Go" providing the meanest, darting, dancing, shuffle that drags in the dirt while reaching for the stars. It may all be a variation on a theme and as one wag put it online, it's all 'sing then solo', but when it's done this well, why complain? Especially when "Louisiana Rain" tugs at the heart strings with such poise and passion and "Ride Of Your Life" lays it on down thick and hard, a mesmerising riff tempered by tom rattles and those spine tingling vocals that offer such subtle shifts from song to song.

Lay It On Down may not reinvent the commercial blues approach, but that was never Kenny Wayne Shepherd's intentions. No, he simply wanted to write some good songs, share some good times and console you when things ain't riding along so smoothly. We all need a traveling companion like that from time to time - an album that won't challenge you but equally it'll never let you down. That's Lay It On Down and Kenny Wayne Shepherd to a tee.

Track Listing
1. Baby Got Gone
2. Diamonds & Gold
3. Nothing But The Night
4. Lay It On Down
5. She's $$$
6. Hard Lesson Learned
7. Down For Love
8. How Low Can You Go
9. Louisiana Rain
10. Ride of Your Life
11. Lay it On Down (Acoustic)

Added: July 1st 2017
Reviewer: Steven Reid
Related Link: Kenny Wayne Shepherd at Mascot Label Group
Hits: 1621
Language: english

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