A quick scan of the “most anticipated Rock albums of 2021” throws out the usual suspects: Foo Fighters (already out), Alice Cooper (26th February), and then it gets a bit wooly. New Sting album – (yeah, nah), Royal Blood, Red Hot Chili Peppers, etc, etc, the year is going to be chocka with triple-A album releases that run the gamut of styles which could be classed as “rock”. But very few “insiders” opted for a new solo album from Myles Kennedy, and that no doubt suits Mr. Kennedy as it allows him to sneak in under the radar and deliver, with minimum pressure, a follow-up to 2018’s stellar debut album ‘Year of the Tiger’.
Taking the pressure off is the ethos of ‘In Stride’, the debut single from the sophomore album ‘The Ides Of March’ (due May 2021), and the lyrical theme could not be more relevant as one lockdown rolls into another. “Chill out. That pretty much sums it up,” explains Myles Kennedy about the single. “The lyric paints a picture of a survivalist preparing for an impending zombie apocalypse. It was inspired by the first wave of lockdowns as everyone was buying vast amounts of toilet paper and supplies. I started to ask myself if it might be wise to try and gain some perspective and not overreact… keep calm and carry on.” – Tonight ladies and gentlemen, the part of Myles Kennedy will be played by Matthew McConaughey – alright, alright, alright.
With the acoustic-driven ‘Year of the Tiger’ being so personal, it was the album that Kennedy had to make. The end result, a stark, but hopeful album, that rightly so ended up in many year-end best-of polls. Early word coming out seemed to suggest that the follow-up would be more electric, and ‘In Stride’ certainly backs-up that thought. Opening with lashings of bluesy slide guitar from Kennedy on a gorgeous resonator (fond memories of Kennedy’s guitar-tech holding it up before a gig on the solo tour for guitar geeks to snap away until they were spent), the intro enhances the fact that as well as being one of the top three rock vocalists around today, Kennedy is also a damn fine guitar player. With longtime friend and drummer Zia Uddin and bassist/manager Tim Tournier alongside him, Kennedy has come up with a four-minute banger that meshes a killer ZZ Top blues shuffle with big-ass atmospheric riffs and a thumping drum sound from Uddin. The guitar licks from Kennedy that take the track to its conclusion simply sizzle, his vocals seem effortless and he sounds like he is having a total blast here. Longtime producer Michael “Elvis” Baskette delivers his usual stellar performance, and although ‘In Stride’ sounds more larger-than-life the higher the volume goes, it is never blighted with the curse of so many modern-day releases, i.e. overproduced by someone who sacrifices clarity for volume.
As far as lead singles go, this is a powerful introduction to an album, which along with new releases from Halestorm (hopefully) and The Wildhearts, gives industry “insiders” a slap across the cheeks for having tunnel vision when it comes to artists leading the way in 2021.
Pre-order ‘The Ides Of March’ here.
Review – Dave[Photo Credit: Chuck Brueckmann]