Hard Rock Swagger
While 4 - Slash’s latest solo album with Myles Kennedy & The Conspirators (11 February 2022; Gibson Records) - serves up all the quality hard rock that fans have come to expect, it also represents a number of innovations.
First, the band travelled to Nashville and chose Dave Cobb to produce. Having worked with artists like Chris Stapleton, Jason Isbell, and John Prine, Cobb might initially have seemed like a left-field choice, but by persuading these oustanding musicians to record live in one studio space, he captured some magic that otherwise could have been lost.
Second, Slash, lead singer Kennedy, rhythm guitarist Frank Sidoris, drummer Brent Fitz and bassist Todd Kerns have become much more cohesive as a band, and consequently play like they are having a blast. Certainly, this new dynamism and synergy bodes very well for their live shows.
Thirdly, this album represents a first for Gibson Guitars, who have partnered with BMG to create a new label: ‘Gibson Records’.
Critically, what is not at all new is to see Slash on his Gibson Les Paul playing great hooks and soaring solos, all in service of the song. Equally strong are Kennedy’s vocals, which benefit here from being left raw and ‘off the leash’. In sum, the result is an album without any fillers.
4 kicks off with one of the standout tracks, The River Is Rising, which exemplifies the bold, confident and edgy sound Cobb must have been looking for. With a topical theme about how easy it can be to fool people, the track features both a great melody and solo, which set the tone for what is to come.
Whatever Gets You By slows down the tempo, at least until Slash puts his mark on the track; while C’est La Vie’s sad guitar line reflects the story of a relationship gone wrong. This is followed by the appropriately-titled The Path Less Followed, which leads us into more country-oriented territory; though the ominous but intriguing Spirit Love is in some ways even more unexpected. Can that Eastern-sound at the start really be a Sitar?
Fill My World is a power ballad that is sure to become a staple of their live act, and is followed by the double-whammy of April Fool, with its rapid-fire riff, and Call Off The Dogs – the latest single release - which is likely to please all Guns n Roses’ fans. The closer, Fall Back to Earth, was apparently in part inspired by a night sky that impacted Slash while on a visit to Africa, and in fact at over six minutes, the whole song has a panoramic feel about it.
Congratulations to Gibson Records on their first release and all credit to Slash, Myles Kennedy & The Conspirators, as well as Dave Cobb, on getting the best out of this talented and ever-growing rock band. Slash’s powerhouse now heads out - with a swagger - across the US, before jetting off to Europe in June; don’t miss them!