Myles Kennedy - 'Year Of The Tiger'

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Myles Kennedy - 'Year Of The Tiger'

A quite wonderful and extremely moving piece of work that is heart-rending and inspirational in equal measure.

Myles Kennedy has become a household name thanks to his involvement with Alter Bridge and Slash's backing band The Conspirators, but 'Year Of The Tiger' is his first solo release.

There's no escaping the fact that this is not a Rock album, it's a million miles away from the Arena-filling Hard Rock Kennedy is renowned for. Instead, 'Year Of The Tiger' is an amalgamation of Blues, Country, Folk and Americana – and it's brilliant. An accomplished guitarist in his own right, Kennedy also performs acoustic, banjo, lap-steel and mandolin here as the prominent instruments – with the electric guitar mostly reserved for the occasional solos – and he is joined by bassist Tim Tournier and drummer Zia Uddin. Vocal-wise, Kennedy's voice is one that divides opinions; I like his delivery, it certainly suits what he does with Alter Bridge and he handles Axl Rose's material with ease when he performs with Slash, but the majority of the material on 'Year Of The Tiger' relies on the lower register of the four-octave vocal range he possesses.

Opening with the title-track, this is a concept album telling a story from start to finish that documents Kennedy's father passing away in 1974 ('The Year Of The Tiger' in the Chinese Zodiac) when the singer was just four years old and the struggles he, his mother and brother faced afterwards. As his family were involved in the Christian Science Church, when his father fell ill, he chose not to seek medical attention, instead relying on his religious beliefs to save him, ultimately leading to his death a few months later.

You would expect that delving into such an emotional and challenging subject would result in an album that resounds with a downbeat, melancholy aura, but nothing could be further from the truth. Sure, there's a certain gravitas to the dramatic, film-score effects of 'The Great Beyond', the stirring ballad 'Love Can Only Heal' and 'Blind Faith' (where Kennedy laments "faith can be blind but it cannot justify the tragedy of life's demise"), but though lyrically sensitive, the likes of 'Ghost Of Shangri-La', 'Turning Stones', 'Mother', 'Haunted By Design', 'Songbird' and the jaunty 'Devil On The Wall' are all up-tempo and buoyant musically.

It's debatable whether the characteristics of 'Year Of The Tiger' will appeal to the average Alter Bridge fan, but I think it's a quite wonderful and extremely moving piece of work that is heart-rending and inspirational in equal measure.

Ant Heeks

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