They Say :- KWS released his debut album Ledbetter Heights at 17 years old, while still in High School – it sold over 500,000 copies within six months • Then went on to stay on top of the Billboard Blues Chart for 20 weeks! In the 16 years since his debut, aged only 33, KWS has enjoyed millions of worldwide album sales and 10 Top 20 singles • Two Billboard Awards, Four Grammy nominations & Guitar World magazine placed him behind only BB King and Eric Clapton in a list of top blues guitarists • Throughout his illustrious career, KWS has shared the stage with rock royalty such as Aerosmith, Van Halen, the Eagles, Bob Dylan and the Rolling Stones • 1997’s platinum selling album ‘Trouble Is…’ set Billboard Chart history, by staying put for over two years. Great ready for more ground-breaking stats with this new release ‘How I Go’.
We Say :- Roadrunner Records have been at the head of the rock and metal scene for a long time, and they are renowned for being one of the most influential rock record labels in the world. In fact there are many who say that they are THE label to sign with if you’re a rock artist. Recently though they have been spreading their wings and have signed several artists that aren’t heavy at all. Lenny Kravitz springs to mind, and while Lenny is a huge signing he’s not traditional RR material. Nor too is Kenny Wayne Shepherd, a full on blues musician with a great sound and an impressive back catalogue of achievements.
Kenny’s new album is another blues masterpiece, and it is his first for new label Roadrunner Records. I have to commend RR for venturing into this new territory, it goes to show that they’re not afraid to take a gamble. That said I don’t think that Kenny is by any means a long shot. This album is almost certain to be huge, and deservedly so.
While there are some musicians that are quite content after a hugely successful album to churn out exactly the same album again and again there are others who continually experiment with new sounds, formulas and direction. Kenny is one of the latter. He’s not afraid to try new things, but of course, having said that, he shows with great authority just how well he can play the blues “the old fashioned way” and this album shows both sides of him brilliantly.
There are also some great vocals on this record, from soft lonesome heartfelt sorrow, to full on kick ass rock your socks off. His song writing skills too are evident, with each song being crafted perfectly to match with the overall ‘feel’ of how it’s presented. A great surprise is a cover version of Oh Pretty Woman first released by Albert King and covered many times since, the most recent being Gary Moore if my memory serves me correctly. It’s a great version of the song, and Kenny has managed to find that balance of not straying too far from the original formula, but far enough to make it his own.
I have the greatest respect for those that attempt cover versions, and do them well. There are some truly awful covers out there, but there are also some GREAT ones. Kenny is a musician that is mature enough to be able to carry it off, and he really does the song justice. This just goes on to confirm just why Kenny is at the forefront of the blues/rock genre. It’s a growing genre too, and where once it was quite an exclusive club there are more and more artists venturing into blues territory. Kenny has been among the pioneers though, and I will admit that this sort of record may well have been done before but there is no doubt in my mind there aren’t very many that could do it as well.
Kenny plays with feeling and emotion and has the voice and song writing ability to back it up. This is a great album, and whether you’re a blues fan that kinda doesn’t mind rock, or a rock fan that kinda likes blues, this has got something for you. Of course it’s a crossover album, and purists from either side of the track are going to contest that it’s one or the other (or not, as the case maybe) but from my own personal point of view it should be viewed for what it is. A great album played by great musicians. What more could you possibly want?