Myles Kennedy : Year Of The Tiger

We’ve been looking forward to the arrival of Myles Kennedy’s debut solo album since we first heard that it was in the works. The anticipation was raised from “mildly interested” to “can’t wait” by the recent release of the video for the title track, which you can check out at the end of this review. It’s about time too, he’s got one of the most distinctive voices in rock and finally he’s getting top billing, his name on the sleeve.

The title track kicks things off in uplifting style, a stripped back arrangement belies a soulful and heartfelt vibe which is pure Myles Kennedy. Of the tracks on here this is the one which is probably most typical of Myles previous work and it sets the listener up nicely for what is to come. As if Myles’ voice wasn’t enough of a reason to get your hands on this album, it also showcases his considerable abilities on a range of stringed instruments. Yeah being the voice of rock isn’t enough, here we also have him playing banjo, lap steel, bass, and  even mandolin through the 12 tracks that make up the album.

This is Myles Kennedy indulging himself, and his musical tastes, to a level we probably haven’t seen before. Blind Faith starts off as a pure slice of Southern-Americana-infused rock whereas The Great Beyond probably isn’t played on a harpsichord, but it sounds like it should be. In a big hall. At a masquerade ball.

Blind Faith is an amazingly powerful track, Myles asking his dad if his faith was worth in the end, prayer wasn’t enough when “like a whisper in the night, you slipped away” and the anger is still there, unresolved. Myles has spoken about this recently, apparently Christian Scientists believe that you don’t go to doctors but instead have faith that God is going to heal you.

Aye, that’ll work.. until an appendix bursts.

The thing that impresses about this album is that although Myles Kennedy can only “do” the Myles Kennedy voice here he’s applied his distinctive, stirring tones to a range of different musical styles, some of which wouldn’t fit with his “day jobs” but work brilliantly without the baggage of preconception that comes with an Alter Bridge or Slash release.

You also get the feeling that assembling this album was something of a cathartic journey, “It basically documents a period in my family’s life when my biological father passed away and essentially what happened after that; how my mother, brother, and I had to start over”. That story is the thread which binds the album together with Myles, an open book, letting the listener in on a difficult time in his life. It’s often dark and you feel his pain and anguish, but there’s  also something of the sense of optimism and hope for the future. It’s different to what we’ve had before with Tracks like One Fine Day come across as rawer and less polished than you’d expect, but these are songs for intimate venues, not massive arenas.

Myles voice is so distinctive that everything he does is instantly recognisable, and everything he does is musically nigh on perfect. Year Of The Tiger keeps up that unrivalled run of form, and it’s definitely one of the finest rock albums you’ll hear this year as Myles proves he can get along just fine without a guitar hero in tow.