The horizons continue to broaden.
While the jury is out on whether or not Myles Kennedy is the busiest man in rock at present, he is definitely in the running when considering the impressive studio output of late featuring his highly distinctive voice. With six highly impressive showings with Alter Bridge, not the least of them including 2019 smash “Walk The Sky,” and a trifecta of LPs in the 2010s alone alongside Slash of Guns ‘N’ Roses fame, the proverbial sky seems the limit for this ambitious Bostonian turned Spokane resident artist. Amid this sea of activity, the same seemingly mortal man has managed a rather intricate showing as a solo musician as well with his 2018 debut “Year Of The Tiger,” showcasing a greater degree of stylistic versatility relative to the aforementioned heavier rocking projects. Now with another Slash & The Conspirators album slated for release at some point before the end of the current year, the same man has managed a second solo outing dubbed “The Ides Of March” that builds upon the varied character of its predecessor and managed to break down some auspicious barriers in the process.
It is obviously stipulated that any album featuring Kennedy’s powerful pipes would be an extravaganza onto itself, but the same man’s abilities as a guitarist is often taken for granted, if for no other reason than that his two best known projects feature iconic guitarists that command most of the intricate six-string material. Now assuming the dual role of front man and lead guitarist, Myles showcases an uncanny level of competency and poise in how he steps into employing the guitar as a melodic instrument. A solid assortment of blues, rock, jazz and even some country elements permeate the numerous lead passages that paint over each song, with Kennedy’s penchant for employing a guitar slide giving things a decidedly rustic character. Likewise, the approach taken to building riffs to shape each song has more of a loose, jam band feel that merges a lot of acoustic grooves and noodling in with the more bombastic, distorted fair that one would expect from the same guy who plays rhythm guitar alongside Mark Tremonti and the rest of Creed’s instrumental section.
Whether the approach taken is a grand rocking anthem or a more subdued and soulful fit of balladry, all eleven of the musical chapters that round out this sophomore anthology are an exercise in smooth melodic goodness. Among the heavier tracks to make the cut is a high impact rocker and ode to the Los Angeles riots of the early 90s (a quasi-prophetic lyrical subject given that the song was penned prior to the 2020 riots) in “Get Along” and swampy blues swagger of “In Stride”, each featuring tuneful lead passages reminiscent of the old blues masters and a thunderous display from longtime fellow traveler and drummer Zia Uddin. On the lighter side, the sweet jazzy stroll of “Love Rain Down” and the country/folksy acoustic musings of “Wanderlust Begins” see a more laid back and almost crooning vocal display out of the usually high-wailing voice of Myles, while the southern rocking “Sitting Through The Fire” plays with some dueling harmonic guitar hooks in addition to the bluesy noodling. But the one that stands the tallest is the massive 7 minute title anthem “The Ides Of March”, which sees Kennedy throwing every stylistic influence in his arsenal at the listener in fairly short order while still keeping things highly organized and concise.
There’s a little bit of something on here for just about every sub-group of rock fan, save maybe the overt mellowness that one tends to encounter with softer rock, as even the ballad work on here has a highly animated flow to it. It’s naturally of a different character of sound relative to Kennedy’s work with Alter Bridge, as the stylistic paradigm at play here isn’t tightly anchored in one place, but rather floating around between 3 or 4 magnetic poles with the blues rocking one being slightly stronger than the rest. Those who enjoy the expansive range of notes and expressions that comes with his vocal performance will not be disappointed, as that is the one thing that is about as bombastic as the material heard from his aforementioned primary band and his work with Slash & The Conspirators. This record tends to defy a specific category or past era of rock music due to its highly eclectic character, but it does possess an overtly modern character due to the voice at the helm and the ultra-thick and crisp production value it sports, which should allow it to find a sizable and welcoming audience among Alter Bridge fans and beyond.
Released Date: May 14th, 2021
Released By: Napalm Records
- Myles Kennedy / Vocals, Guitars
- Tim Tournier / Bass
- Zia Uddin / Drums
“The Ides of March” tracklisting:
- Get Along
- A Thousand Words
- In Stride
- The Ides Of March
- Wake Me When It’s Over
- Love Rain Down
- Tell It Like It Is
- Wanderlust Begins
- Sifting Through The Fire
- Worried Mind
One of the most recognizable voices in modern rock, Myles Kennedy delivers a titanic follow up to his 2018 solo debut, delving a bit further into his eclectic influences and donning the six-string in a rarely heard lead capacity