Rock singer Myles Kennedy is one of the most talented and assiduous musicians in the industry.
Marrying his work ethic to a 4-octave range and respected guitar skills, Kennedy has five consecutive top-20 albums on the Billboard top 200 album chart with his main band Alter Bridge and a critically acclaimed gig singing for legendary Guns N' Roses guitarist Slash.
Despite the success, the windows to Kennedy's soul reflect a boy who wrestles with the aftermath of one of life's greatest tragedies. He lost his father, Richard Bass, at age 4 to appendicitis.
That experience fuels Kennedy's first solo album "Year of the Tiger." The title derives from the Chinese Zodiac sign in 1974 — the year Kennedy's father passed away — which was the tiger.
To accommodate the deeply personal subject, Kennedy trades the bursting guitars and soaring vocals of Alter Bridge for a bluesy approach that gives listeners a more intimate, genuine experience.
The stylistic shift is apparent from the first track and lead single, "Year of the Tiger." A core blend of soft rock and blues mixed with a tinge of country flavor set the scene. Lyrically, Kennedy recognizes the need to cope with his greatest loss with lines, "In the year of the tiger/ I’m gonna stake my claim/Run a thousand miles/ beyond this house of pain."
As Kennedy progresses to the second track, he simultaneously progresses to the second stage of the grieving cycle. “The Great Beyond” sees Kennedy belting those three words over a rage-fueled riff. Additionally, this is the first track where Kennedy laments disappointment over his father's Christian decision to pray his illness away, instead of seeking immediate medical attention.
Anger over that choice heightens in the next two tracks. "Blind Faith" is as religiously opposed to religion as the title suggests. "Devil on the Wall" is one of the most uptempo rock songs on the album. Here, Kennedy asks listeners "If there is a god, then why did it take my father's soul?"
Though Kennedy does not find an answer, he finds calmness in "Turning Stones." The lyric "I am turning stones/to leave the past behind" tells the song's story.
Unfortunately, Kennedy relapses into confusion on the next track "Haunted by Design." Again, Kennedy finds himself injected with emotional pain over the concept of creative design.
This song's lyrics are sung in a whispery, morose tone. "Voices in my weary head never let me be/turning every fear and dread/from a whisper to a scream" and "When I should be counting sheep/I am counting my last days" reveal that the weight of ultimate woefulness is too often too heavy to bear.
Kennedy finds solace in his mother. He rewards her efforts to stay strong and raise two children with the next song "Mother."
That tune sets the stage for arguably the strongest song on this album, "Love Can Only Heal." Channeling a Mayfield Four vibe, Kennedy skillfully strums his acoustic guitar strings. Meanwhile, he delivers an even more masterful performance vocally that strums listeners' heartstrings.
"Love can Only Heal" represents a turning point in Myles Kennedy's life, as he transitions to "Songbird." He closes the one-way cathartic conversation with "One Fine Day." The song celebrates Kennedy's discovery of the internal fortitude to let time mend his broken heart.
Overall, Kennedy's decision to open his heart opens listeners' ears to a strong musical effort. What this album lacks in style, it makes up for in substantial soul, instrumentation and excellent lyrics.
The album will not be everyone's cup of tea, but it is a very palpable drink of musicality.
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