REVIEW: Myles Kennedy – The Ides of March

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Myles Kennedy is one of the top vocalists to emerge on the American rock/metal scene in the past decades and he barely needs any introduction. He made a name for himself in the ‘90s with THE MAYFIELD FOUR, since 2004 with ALTER BRIDGE, and in the past decade with his fruitful collaborations alongside GUNS N’ ROSES‘ guitarist Slash. Apart from all this, in March 2018, Myles Kennedy released the acoustic/blues album “Year of the Tiger” to great critical acclaim. On May 14th, 2021, he released his second solo album, “The Ides of March,” via Napalm Records.

There’s a certain liberty that comes with being a solo artist, which in turn allows one to explore more genres and express themselves in ways that may not always be possible within a band. Myles Kennedy took full advantage of this freedom and delivered an album that is diverse and eclectic, showcasing his affinity for other genres. And while rock with blues influences can briefly describe the sonic soundscape that he created for his new solo opus, the music covers much more ground than that. Over the course of 51 minutes, he shifts from distorted rock anthems to bluesy pieces and acoustic songs, all the way to some country guitar strumming. Each song stands out as a testament to his creative prowess, impeccable guitar skills, and incredible vocal range, be it a soothing ballad or a more energetic foot-stomper. With that said, for people who expect an ALTER BRIDGE-sounding album, this may not be what you hoped for.

The opening trio of songs – “Get Along,” “A Thousand Words,” and “In Stride” – are heavier, more guitar-oriented tracks that kick off the album with a bang. These tracks are adorned with commanding riffs, melodic solos, soaring vocals, and powerful lyrics about the importance of togetherness, staying calm in these weird times, and not losing hope in the future. The blues-inspired melodies start poking out with the acoustic intro of “A Thousand Words” and underpin the up-tempo melody of the single “In Stride,” making it stand out as an album highlight. The lengthy title track opens softly with acoustic guitar and whispered vocals, which act as a warning to “beware the ides of Match.” It then continues with serene verses, groovy bass lines, and mellow guitar melodies only to build up in intensity and transition into an intense final crescendo, boosted by a jazzy guitar solo. With a title plucked from the writings of William Shakespeare, this track is a plea for solidarity in these times of strife.

Fun and easy-going “Wake Me When It’s Over” and “Tell It Like It Is” are well-earned respites after such heavy tracks, carried by groovy melodies and catchy choruses. Stepping into blues/country territory, “Love Rain Down” is as passionate as it is beautiful and soulful, as fingerpicked acoustic melodies trade places with steady drums and grave bass notes that give it weight. However, it is “Moonshot” that best showcases how well country and rock can work together by fusing these two genres into a tranquil mid-tempo ballad. As always, Kennedy’s signature towering vocals make the chorus a standout moment, injecting the track with energy and vitality. With a strong meandering vibe attached to it coming from the mandolin, percussions, and acoustic guitar, breezy “Wanderlust Begins” is a charming and idyllic piece of music that could be seen as the odd-one-out on this album. Still, its laid-back vibe and peaceful atmosphere make it one of my favorites alongside “In Stride.” Upbeat rocker “Sifting Through the Fire” and blues-oriented “Worried Mind” wrap up the album on the same heavy note as it began. These songs prove once again that Kennedy’s pedigree as one of the best voices in rock is as valid as ever. His vocal acrobatics on “Worried Mind” alone should be enough to appease any possible doubts regarding his status.

All-in-all, “The Ides of March” offers an array of sounds, moods, and vibes that are delightful and heartfelt, while the social commentary that pierces through some of them is sharp and to the point. With a bluesy melodic backbone that holds the album together, this is a reminder that what a musician offers within a band is different from what they can offer when unrestrained of such confines. Myles Kennedy merges his songwriting craft and affinity for all things Americana into a record that plays on his strengths as both a vocalist and a lead guitarist, while also bringing that Southern rock feels to a wider audience. Bottom line is that, while not all albums can bring something new and spectacular to the table, every once in a while it’s nice to sit and enjoy songs that were crafted out of passion and need to explore other musical avenues.

Written by Andrea Crow

Tracklist

  1. Get Along
  2. A Thousand Words
  3. In Stride
  4. The Ides of March
  5. Wake Me When It’s Over
  6. Love Rain Down
  7. Tell It Like It Is
  8. Moonshot
  9. Wanderlust Begins
  10. Sifting Through the Fire
  11. Worried Mind

Lineup

Myles Kennedy – Vocals, Guitar
Zia Uddin – Drums and Percussion
Tim Tournier – Bass

Label

Napalm Records

Links

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