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9.9.11

Kenny Wayne Shepherd Band - 'How I Go' (roadrunner) 4.5/5


Now I'm a fussy bugger when it comes to the blues. Being raised by a blues and jazz loving father I developed a taste for the pure blues from a young age, then as I grew up and my tasted broadened I also took to some of the classic white boy bluesers like George Thorogood and Pat Travers. So I like to think I can tell good blues when I hear it. to me good blues should speak from the soul and be played with real emotion. Which is why I took a dislike to the likes of Gary Moores blues period (too many notes, no real feeling) and Steve Miller (too safe and souless). Now I have been aware of Kenny Wayne Shepherd for sometime, but also heard too many people making Steve Miller comparisons, so have avoided his work until this album dropped into my in tray the other day. So I thought its time to bite the bullets and see what he actually sounded like.

Now I must say from the off, this is NOT a straight blues album. Sure there is a very very strong blues influence here; songs like Oh, Pretty Woman, Backwater Blues, Yer Blues (yup the old Beatles classic) and Heat of the Sun are all old school blues numbers and boy can Mr Shepherd play the Blues!! These tracks drip angst and emotion and on the aforementioned Heat of The Sun he lays down a solo that can only be described as a real tear jerker (this song is already a walkman fave of mine and I've only had this album a few days). However there are more strings to this guys bow than playing classic blues licks on a beat up old strat.. There are also good dollops of country rock on songs like Show Me The Way Back Home; whilst in other places such as on Come On Over, Strut and The Wire we are heading into Doc Holiday / Grinderswitch southern boogie territory and  the real suprise comes on Dark Side of Love which is a funk blues fusion of exceptional quality.

Apparently, like all good bluesers Mr Shepherd is completely self taught, with his only instruction coming from tricks and licks taught to him local blues men like Bryan Lee, and a stack of Albert King records and boy does it show. His playing is fresh, original and full of fire and emotion, this guy doesn't play blues he feels them and that's the way it should be.

In short - this album is great and a must have for all fans of the Blues and Americana.

For fans of... George Thorogood, Stevie Ray Vaughan, Ry Cooder, Peter Green etc...

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