The death of a parent is traumatic at any time, even more traumatic when it happens to you when you are a child, and especially when it could have been avoided. The debut solo album from Myles Kennedy has been in the works for some years now. Scrapped, then re-started, it now sees the light of day, and tells the tale of the death of Kennedy’s father when the Alter Bridge frontman was only four years old. His father’s faith meant that he refused medical attention when he became ill and soon died, in 1974… the year of the tiger.
We all know Myles Kennedy from Alter Bridge and his time with Slash. You might have caught him performing ‘Watch Over You’ solo on an acoustic guitar, so ‘Year Of The Tiger’ shouldn’t come as surprise with its stripped back, rootsy feel. It’s profound and deeply moving. At times it can be quite an uncomfortable listening experience, if one can share the sense of loss that Kennedy sings about. Kennedy sings much lower than he does when he has a stack of Marshalls and a PA strong enough to power a small country for a month behind him. Therefore, every painful lyric, every question that Kennedy asks, is clear for all to hear. On ‘Blind Faith’; “I know you’re steadfast in your ways, never compromise your faith, but is it worth it in the end, to never see my face again” Or on ‘Nothing But A Name’; “Your conviction, your belief, how could you choose that over me, I still miss you now, goddamn, I miss you now”.
Myles Kennedy handles the string instruments himself, including guitars, banjo, lap steel, and mandolin. Any use of mandolin from a predominantly rock artist will draw comparisons with Zeppelin, and the title track evokes vivid memories of hearing ‘Battle Of Evermore’ for the first time. ‘Year Of The Tiger’ has such a fantastic foot-stomping beat though that images of Orcs and Hobbits soon vanish. An energetic way to kick off the album. ‘The Great Beyond’ is majestic, a heady swirling atmospheric gem, with sublime arrangements that will have you instantly hitting the repeat button. Although dealing with a difficult subject matter, there are some high energy uptempo standout moments on the album. ‘Devil On The Wall’ is a raucous mix of blues and old school rock n’ roll. Did you ever see Lemmy in Headcat or Motörhead when they did that stripped back segment in their live set? A pure and simple throwback to the good old days. It also features Kennedy on a Gretsch Duane Eddy model. Shut up and take my money now! ‘Haunted By Design’ is a country foot-stomper which is impossible not to tap along with. Expect some audience participation on this one when played live.
Like most albums with a narrative running through them, ‘Year Of The Tiger’ has to be heard start to finish in one sitting. Without listening to ‘Blind Faith’, ‘Ghost Of Shangri La’ and ‘Turning Stones’, you might not appreciate the heartfelt sentiments on ‘Mother’, or the hopefulness on ‘Songbird’. On closing track ‘One Fine Day’ Kennedy offers up; “Through our tragedies, we find out who we are” as well as: “The tragedies we face, we can’t outrun, but time heals the ache, though all we had is gone”. ‘Year Of The Tiger’ is an incredible example of the healing power of music, not just for Myles Kennedy, but also for the listener.
Available now through Napalm Records. More information, including tour dates, can be found here.