Kenny Wayne Shepherd – The Traveller
Concord Records (May 2019)
Reviewer: Peter Scallan
Kenny Wayne Shepherd has been kicking around the blues scene since the early 90’s when he burst onto it as a teenage guitar prodigy. However, judging by the opening track on this album he has progressed somewhat since then.
‘Women Like You‘ is the ultimate blend of melodic and blues rock with a great blues riff and huge chorus hook with superb blues, which I believe are provided by vocalist Noah Hunt. ‘Long Time Running‘ picks up the peace and continues in the same melodic blues vein before ‘I Want You‘ kicks in and takes the band back to a more slow blues base in Shepherd shows his roots.
The feel changes again for ‘Tailwind‘ and is an upbeat acoustic number with another absolute superb vocal performance and catchy chorus. ‘Gravity‘ is next and opens with a great build on guitar and drums before building up into a great bridge and chorus.
As the album only has ten tracks we are by the half-way mark with ‘We All Right‘, which straddles the blues with a great rhythm through the verse before bursting into another hook-laden chorus. We slip right into the blues groove with the ballad-like ‘Take It Home‘ with some great keyboards and equally lush guitar solo and vocals. Again, the chorus is as catchy as a catchy thing that catches things!
The double-time drumbeat drives ‘Mr Soul‘ which I believe is a cover version of a Buffalo Springfield song. It has an almost R & B feel to it and certainly raises the tempo back up. Next up is ‘Better With Time‘ which has a real Rolling Stones groove to it with a little Living Colour thrown in for good measure. It bounces along on a grooving guitar riff with keyboard accompaniment and of course a killer chorus. By now we are onto the last track, ‘Turn To Stone‘, which opens with some great guitar licks and then drops into grooving staccato guitar riff and a great one-liner chorus. Most definitely a fitting end to a superb album.
This album for me is certainly up there with the best blues rock out there in terms of the quality of songs, which ultimately is what it is all about. I have only heard the odd few tracks from this guy in the past but based on this outing I will be sure to delve into his back catalogue over the coming months.