May 28, 2019 Kenny Wayne Shepherd Band -The Traveler (Album Review)
Born and raised in Louisiana, Kenny Wayne Shepherd has accomplished a great deal in his career as a musician. Selling millions of records, receiving 5 Grammy nominations, and attaining a great deal of success as a Blues guitarist, Shepherd has a résumé like few others. A career that saw him release his 1995 debut album Ledbetter Heights when he was only 18 years of age, Shepherd has traveled the world much over the last two plus decades, and now is set to to release his ninth album The Traveler on Friday, May 31st through Concord Records.
As mentioned, a fascinating story, looking back even further, at the age of 7, Shepherd had began playing guitar, figuring out Muddy Waters’ riffs. When he was 13 years old, he was invited to onstage by bluesman Brian Lee where he proved himself by being able to play very well for several hours. Deciding to take on music professionally, the aforementioned Ledbetter Heights was released 2 years after his signing to a label. Selling over 500,000 copies, numbers that were almost unheard of for Blues records, especially since Shepherd was only a teenager at the time, it was clear he was onto something special. That all said, Shepherd is no longer a teenager trying to figure it out, he is now a 41 year old man with a wife, five children, and a whole lot of experience.
Teaming up with a stellar group of musicians once again – Vocalist Noah Hunt, Bassist Kevin McCormick, Keyboardists Jimmy McGorman and Joe Krown, and Drummer Chris “Whipper” Layton (formerly of Stevie Ray Vaughan’s Double Trouble) – together they create a powerhouse album of Rock and Blues. Co-produced by Shepherd and Marshall Altman, the ten song collection begins with the rocking “Woman Like You.” A great beginning, the album flows very well from here with beautiful songs such as “I Want You,” “Gravity,” and “Tailwind.”
Additionally, the album features two cover songs; Buffalo Springfield’s “Mr. Soul” and Joe Walsh’s “Turn to Stone.” Both fantastic renditions, he first performed “Turn to Stone” during a live fundraiser honoring, you guessed it, Joe Walsh, and it turned out so well, he decided to perform a live take in the studio for the album. This is while “Mr. Soul” was put on the album to honor a great experience Shepherd when he Stephen Stills and Neil Young (Buffalo Springfield founders) performed the song during another benefit show.
Including other must listens including “Woman Like You,” “Long Time Running,” as well as “Take it On Home,” The Traveler is a great fusion of styles. Justifiably titled, Kenny Wayne Shepherd is truly the traveler, weathering life on the road and mastering the live performance along the way. That in mind, he has found a way to bring that magic into a studio recording and in the process shown a great deal of progression in his twenty plus years making music. A reflection of talent, experience, and passion, Cryptic Rock gives the beautiful and well-rounded The Traveler 5 out of 5 stars.