With Lay It On Down, the Kenny Wayne Shepherd Band have delivered on his eighth solo album, and first since 2014s Goin’ Home, the most glorious mix of blues, blues-rock and rock-funk-blues album that manages to conjure images of the energy spent at momentous gigs and the relaxed chill of quiet nights by the sea listening to the waves, all in the space of ten masterful tracks.
The opening Baby Not Gone ignites the pyre, its solid back beat and harmonised vocals – with Shepherd’s own fronting scoring high on the rockin’ scale – give the collection as a whole a launch pad from which to soar!
Then comes the beautifully hot Diamonds & Gold. A swipe at modern day consumerism in the most subtle of ways, its horn section add a swing-time depth that’s made all the more strident by the underpinning of the most understated Hammond organ. The slight echoes of which come across like a hint of Chanel on the classiest of model’s silk scarf.
To follow this is the Santana-esque beauty of Nothin’ But The Night. With Noah Hunt’s rich vocals soaking the listener like a deluge of molten honey, the same of which can be said of the titular track, although this time with Shepherd’s vocals being the focus.
Telling a story of intense self-doubt at its most raw, here is a cut which exudes pain and pleasure in the same breath. Shepherd’s acoustic guitar stirs the campfire’s glistening, comforting flames and so leaves a sense of hope that is, at best, unexpected from something so heartfelt.
A little slice of fun lifts the mood with Hunt’s vocals skipping through She’s $$$ like a dancer sidestepping puddles in a sudden downpour; it’s beat pure Deep South exuding joy unbound.
The heart-breaker that is Hard Lesson Learned is guaranteed to have men searching longingly for their partners in audiences wide and far, whereas Down For Love will have those same couples up and bouncing within a heartbeat of the former’s close. The Stevie Ray Vaughn toned guitar break a magnificently executed bonus.
How Low Can You Go keeps the energy up, the 60s vibe running through, adding a zing that’s like a bolt of lemon following the sharpest of tequila slammers. With Louisiana Rain finally providing a stopgap of the most chilled kind, here’s a song imbued with starry, starry nights and cool breezes.
With the album closing on Ride Of Your Life in the most energetic of ways, Kenny Wayne Shepherd makes good on his promise to get better and better with each new outing. The production values provided by what Marshall Altman brings to the already most skilled of parties is palpable, but it is the sum of the whole that is most deliriously satisfying. Not so much toying with the tiger’s tail of stylistic eclecticism but more trying to tear it away, Lay It On Down is a return to the studio by The Kenny Wayne Shepherd Band that should be lauded long and loud.
Kenny Wayne Shepherd Band
Lay It On Down
Number of Discs: 1
4 August, 2017
- Baby Got Gone
- Diamonds & Gold
- Nothing But The Night
- Lay It On Down
- She’s $$$
- Hard Lesson Learned
- Down For Love
- How Low Can You Go
- Louisiana Rain
- Ride Of Your Life
- Lay It On Down (Acoustic)
Jul 18: Frankfurter Hof, Mainz, DE
Jul 19: Winterbach Zeltspektakel 2017, Winterbach, DE
Jul 21: Honberg Sommer, Tuttlingen, DE
Jul 22: Guitare-en-Scene, Saint-Julien-En-Genevois, FR
Jul 23: Carroponte Spazio Mil, Sesto San Giovanni, IT
Jul 24: Z7 Konzertfabrik, Pratteln, CH
Jul 26: Tollhaus, Karlsruhe, DE
Jul 27: Burg Herzberg Festival, Breitenbach Am Herzberg, DE
Jul 29: Ramblin Man Fair, Maidstone, UK
Jul 30: The Picturedrome, Holmfirth, UK
Aug 01: Amager Bio, Copenhagen, DK
Aug 02: Jamdays, Odense, DK
Aug 04: Notodden Blues Festival, Notodden, NO
Oct 27: Kyps, Poole, UK
Oct 30: The Assembly, Leamington, UK
Oct 31: Tramshed, Cardiff, UK
Nov 01: Ritz, Manchester, UK