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Myles Kennedy - The Ides of March (Album Review)

Monday, 24 May 2021 Written by Simon Ramsay

Photo: Chuck Brueckmann

There’s little doubt that the global pandemic has polarised society in a way most of us have never experienced. Now more than ever we need rationality, perspective, understanding and respect. Reflecting on this period, Myles Kennedy’s second solo album will rightly be lauded for its musical prowess, but everything that’s great about it flows from the songwriter’s laudable sense of humanity and empathy.

Much like its predecessor, 2018’s deeply autobiographical ‘Year of the Tiger,’ this album is a fully functioning body of work that’s perfectly paced and superbly well sequenced. Taking us on a journey from beginning to end, the Alter Bridge frontman reflects on the personal and societal impact of a year in lockdown, deftly preaching unity while contextualising his observations against a past that was taken for granted and an uncertain future.  

Teaming the stripped back acoustic elements from ‘Year of the Tiger’ with a more electrified, guitar-driven aesthetic, these impressively rendered compositions channel Led Zeppelin and the Allman Brothers throughout.

Kennedy sagely deploys a rootsy smorgasbord of rock ‘n’ roll, country, blues and jazz to perfectly underscore and amplify the lyrics’ sentiments.  

Opener Get Along, with its big backing vocals and call to arms chorus, is pure arena rock and therefore fitting for an anthem of togetherness. Wake Me When it’s Over, which imagines what might have happened if Kennedy had hooked up with Slash in Velvet Revolver instead of The Conspirators, is a dizzying, riff-driven outpouring about the need to escape this “endless holiday”. Tell It Like It Is calls out the powers that be over an early Aerosmith-gone-country-rock barnburner. 

Elsewhere, the slow burn salvation of Love Rain Down is stunningly meditative, A Thousand Words, which subtly touches on grief and reflection to paint a moving carpe diem portrait, delivers a beautifully flowing chorus that’s effortlessly hooky. In Stride, meanwhile, rides a frantic bandwagon of ripping slide work as it recalls how people went crazy during the first lockdown. Calling for calm heads to prevail, it’s definitely the first—and most likely last—bluesy rock song about hoarding toilet roll.

Kennedy’s emotive singing often takes centre stage and both the soaring ballad Moonshot and blues pick-me-up Worried Mind highlight his prowess in that department. But what this record really shows is why Slash and Mark Tremonti rate him as the best guitarist in their respective bands. Whether dispatching evocative and stylistically versatile slide work, adrenaline-fuelled runs or sublimely phrased soloing akin to Peter Green, he approaches the instrument like a singer and makes each passage as lyrical and tuneful as it is memorable and soulful.  

Each winning element of ‘The Ides of March’ comes together in jaw dropping fashion on the near eight minute title track. Beginning with crisp Stairway To Heaven fingerpicking before erupting into profound walls of noise, either side of cool jazzy verses and Larry Carlton fretwork, it masterfully twists and turns through major and minor passages to reach a powerful musical and lyrical epiphany.

Despite its subject matter, this album certainly doesn’t wallow in misery, ultimately leaving a sense of hope in its wake. Striking the perfect equilibrium between chronicling problems and positing solutions, Kennedy’s songwriting allows his compassion and abundance of heart to suggest positive ways we can, collectively and individually, navigate our way through these troubled waters and find reasons to remain optimistic.



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