Wednesday, February 21, 2024

Kenny Wayne Shepherd cleans up on Dirt On My Diamonds (Volume 1)

Although Kenny Wayne Shepherd seemed to have reduced the blues in favour of ‘standard’ rock riffing and soulful readings on his last couple of outings, his latest album sees him return to bluesier rock and it’s all the better for it.

(By the way, as Christmas approaches, Kenny’s version of ‘Rudolph The Red-Nosed Reindeer’ is a brilliant and axe-ceptable way to celebrate!)

It also promises more of the same, going by the title – Dirt On My Diamonds (Volume 1) is eight tracks of fluid, emotive and sensational guitar playing. Even the surprising cover of Reg’s ‘Saturday’s Alright For Fighting’ stays fairly true to the melodies but ups the blues ratio and then delivers a superb solo toward the end that is a revelation. Elsewhere we get an engaging, dirty blues on ‘Sweet And Low’ with excellent horny horns and brilliant rhythm guitar as well as a wah’d solo of pure genius. ‘Bad Intentions’ is sort of Aerosmith meets Purple blues of the highest order where the guitar punctuates with brilliance. The title track takes some well worn blues tropes both lyrically and melodically whilst remaining original, fiery and damn good. Soul does play its part in the lovely love song that is ‘You Can’t Love Me…,’ the keys warm the backing as the guitar emphasises nicely the emotional message. Saving the best to last, the seven-minute ‘Ease My Mind’ is slow blues with bite and never overstays its welcome as Kenny again utilises recognisable blues frameworks in his own inimitable way and, as he says, “I make my old guitar sing” and by God, he does…with feeling, fluidity and breathtaking skill.

This is a blues album of sheer quality from first note to last and is up there with his brilliant 2011 album, How I Go for well-balanced high-quality playing and singing with his original interpretation of this wonderful genre.

Dirt On My Diamonds is out on 17th November 2023.

Tom Dixon
Tom Dixon
North East born, South West domiciled music lover - mainly heavy rock & blues but not averse to other genres. I'm fortunate to have retired early & I can now take full advantage of the 40+ years I have spent collecting, listening, watching & playing (badly) & have enjoyed researching how blues in particular has shaped the music we know & love today. Now if only I could get my Strat & Musicman to sound in reality how they do in my head!

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