Review: Jim Kirkpatrick – Ballad of the Prodigal Son
US One Records (September 4th 2020)
Reviewer: Peter Scallan
Although another blues album for me to review, Jim Kirkpatrick is well known to me in terms of his work with melodic rock kings FM. I was also lucky to see him do an acoustic set some years back at HRH Blues in Sheffield when I was playing with the Brian Rawson Band. I thought his acoustic set was superb, but was a little disappointed in the full electric set later in the day, which just didn’t land with me. Therefore, I was a little apprehensive when I got this to review.
‘Ballad of the Prodigal Son‘ is the opening song and is a pacey blues rocker which has a Bad Co feel to it. This is followed by ‘No Such Thing As A Sure Thing‘ which has a more blues country feel to it. ‘Ain’t Going Down‘ also has slight Bad Co feel to it with a bit of Bonamassa thrown in. It also has a great opening guitar riff and brings something different to the party. Next up is an instrumental called ‘Blue Heron Boulevard‘ in which Jim gets to show off his tasteful guitar playing. I can imagine this being the theme tune for a travel or a car show! The guitar harmonies veer from reminding me of the Allman Brothers to Bill Nelson and prime Be Bop Deluxe. A delightful piece indeed! We move back to big blues riffola for ‘Be Hard With It‘ with its grooving guitar and some cowbell magic. Blues rock at its best which I can image on a classic Pat Travers album. ‘Skin and Bone‘ is built around a rotating drum pattern and walking bass line. It does remind of something but I just can’t place it but demonstrates the variety in the song writing.
‘Always On The Road‘ is a it a bit of twelve bar blues with tales of travelling and leaving love behind. While, Jim does a great job vocally, I would love to hear Steve Overland (The Man in my eyes) chant this song. We have a real country opening to ‘61 and 49‘ and this is indeed a country rocker with some nifty bottleneck and some stellar backing vocals from Sarah Miller. We then slip into a blues ballad called ‘Talk To Me‘. This slowly builds and while I like it, for me it’s the weakest track on the album.
The tempo is lifted markedly for the bouncing rocker that is ‘Gravy Train‘. Driven by guitar and organ, this is a short pacey rocker which does the trick. Next is ‘Brave New World‘, which is quite possibly my favourite track. Sounding like a cross between Pink Floyd and King’s X, it’s a slice of alternative blues while being really melodic with a killer chorus. Great stuff! And before I know it I am at the last song. It’s a slow burning ballad of sorts called ‘All You Need Is All You Have‘. Building to a crescendo, it provides a great finale for the album.
If I am honest on the first few listens to this album I thought it was an ok album and not really doing it for me. However, it was on rotate with the latest Walter Trout and was the second of the albums, so quite possibly it was the fact that the Trout album blew me away right from the off. However, as the album rotated more as Mrs Scallan and I toured the west coast of Scotland, we both really started to pick up the nuances of this album. As such, this was a real grower and I have got to say that I am so glad that it was on rotate on holiday. Otherwise, I would have quite possibly missed out and what has turned out to be a really superb album! Hats off to ya Mr Kirkpatrick!