Kenny Wayne Shepherd CD Review
"Trouble Is..." by Jeff Fields
Revolution 1997, (924689-2), 12 tracks, 56 minutes
Being labeled the next heir apparent to the King of the Blues throne has one downside. Being labeled. And if you make the unfortunate mistake and believe the label to be the tell-all of a particular musician, you are doomed.

That was my fate when I first played Kenny Wayne Shepherd's "Trouble Is..." I wanted to hear some of the promise. Instead I was completely disappointed, but only for a short time. After a week I gave it another listen or two, or three, or four. I rediscovered what I already knew. New music needs time to lay down, to settle in and stand for itself. KWS's "Trouble Is..." settles real well.

"Trouble Is..." starts smokin' right off the start with a rockin' track titled "Slow Ride." This track kind of gets you in the mood and also in your face with some heavy distortion and a little wah wah. Not the strongest song on the CD, but good. You will also notice the addition of a new lead vocalist Noah Hunt, who fills in adequately. The rest of the band is topped off by an ultra tight rhythm section. The CD also features some special guest appearances including SRV's "Double Trouble" Tommy Shannon and Chris Layton, plus Reese Wynans on keyboards and James Cotton on harmonica.

"Trouble Is..." isn't blues, nor is it rock. It is music. Strong music. Nine of the 12 songs are all or at least partially penned by Kenny Wayne. The two covers are Bob Dylan's "Everything Broken" and Jimi Hendrix's "I Don't Live Today." The Hendrix's track lacks a bit but the Dylan track actually has a little bite to it with some sweet Jimmie Vaughan inspired licks.

The one track that will jump on you is "Blue on Black." This tune has a very tasty Storyville/ ARC Angels( both Double Trouble workings) feel to it topped with some timely guitar work by Kenny Wayne. Also "I Found Love" falls along this same line. Although the guitar work on this track, let's just say, leaves you wanting more. The remaining songs on "Trouble Is..." are very solid with some excellent guitar work backed by air tight work by the band. But at times you want Kenny to take off and get nasty, although he does on a few solos, especially "True Lies." And at other times you begin to appreciate his timely fills. He picks his spots well.

So when you hear Kenny Wayne Shepherd's "Trouble Is..." throw your expectations out the window and listen for the music.

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Copyright 1997 by Ray M. Stiles

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