Fans of Myles Kennedy will know that a solo album has long been in the works for the frontman of both Alter Bridge and Slash’s solo band, Myles Kennedy And The Conspirators. Almost a decade in the making and one entire scrapped album later, it’s finally here in the form of ‘Year Of The Tiger’, an emotional record entirely inspired by Kennedy losing his father at the tender age of four.
Title track, Year of the Tiger opens the album, instantly showcasing Kennedy’s non-rock influences – particularly blues, R&B, and acoustic-based music. Allowing his instantly recognisable voice to shine, Kennedy holds back from his famously impressive notes whilst allowing his vocals to take centre stage to really portray the emotional depth of the lyrics.
The Great Beyond opens up into a grand concept-style track using impressively dark and surreal imagery within the lyrics to portray his father’s death. An ambitious, epic track in all respects, this is a song sure to catch any listeners attention, while ‘Blind Faith’ steps right back to a simpler sound, again really bringing forward Kennedy’s bluesy influences.
Devil On The Wall will appeal to the classic rock fans, with an intro that sounds like a genius crossover of Guns N’ Roses’ ballad Patience and the vocal brilliance of the late Chris Cornell, before increasing dramatically in tempo, enough to make you want to bop along and dance in a somewhat unexpected modern twist. Nothing short of an impressive feat for an acoustic song!
Being an album about the grief process, Ghost Of Shangri-La paints a vivid picture of the aftermath of the death of Kennedy’s father. With an opening line of “There are thieves outside of our window” inspired by the break-in of the family home a few weeks after his death, ultimately serving as a catalyst for Kennedy’s mother to uproot the family from Boston and move, and lines such as “we’ve got to move on and leave this all behind, ‘cause this house is getting colder,” clearly describing the emptiness of grief, balanced with the weight of raising children that Kennedy’s mother must have felt. An emotional track, that proves to be one of the standouts of the album.
Turning Stones makes for possibly the simplest track on the album, but that doesn’t make it boring. With a consistent acoustic guitar and just the right amount of effects, Kennedy’s voice really shines here, on what is a deeply personal track as he tries to get into his mother’s head at the time. In somewhat of a bluegrassier vibe, Haunted By Design will prove a winner for fans of the classic rock and blues styles of music, a stripped back track with a bit of an up-tempo twist to it.
Mother is another song where Kennedy pays tribute to his mother, trying to imagine her experience of the tragedy whilst being left to carry on raising Kennedy and his brother. The vocal performance in this song really tugs on the heartstrings, whilst bringing back that bluegrass sound again in the music. Mother portrays a feeling of brokenness and utter desperation, all the while shining through a glimmer of hope in the chorus with the lines “When all hope is left to die, a mother’s love survives.”
Kennedy bares his soul in Nothing But A Name a deeply personal track which he describes as an open letter to his father. Another stripped back track allowing the vocals to stand at the forefront yet again, really emphasising the raw emotion within the lyrics.
Closing ‘Year Of The Tiger’ on a more positive note, Love Can Only Heal is a song where a glimmer of hope and growth shines through, emphasising that strength comes from the pain we’ve endured. This is nothing short of a hopeful track, portraying the sense of calm and acceptance at the tail end of the grief process, and newfound hope for the future.
Whilst not a rock album like many would have expected from Kennedy considering his previous band work, ‘Year Of The Tiger’ stays true to everything you’d expect from him, both in sound and pure emotion. This album has been a long time coming for fans and Kennedy alike, but listening through these tracks, it’s painstakingly clear why it was so right to be released as a single body of work. Although it may be somewhat a departure of what we’re used to hearing from Kennedy, this is sure to be an era welcomed with wide open arms by fans far and wide.