Throughout the whole career of the American Blues/Rock Guitar Supremo and singer/songwriter Kenny Wayne Shepherd, this must be the very first time that the Louisiana-born artist has left a stop gap time of 4 years between his last studio album and his brand new one.
Obviously, there were very justified reasons behind this time gap. Given the 2020's worldwide pandemic that forced to immobilise live performances to any musician, it was very much understandable that Shepherd and his band would instead release a live album, on the back of the success of the tour that followed the release of the 2019's The Traveler album, perhaps one of the very best of Shepherd's remarkable career to date. Adding to all this the fact that the 25th anniversary of the release of Trouble Is.., Shepherd's most successful record to date was due back in 2022, it makes complete sense that Kenny Wayne Shepherd and his band would release a new studio record just this year.
Dirt On My Diamonds, Vol.1, the brand new record of one of the most loved and celebrated Blues/Rock guitarists worldwide, it's the ideal step forward, especially from a sonic point of view, after The Traveler album. Despite the fact that the record clocks off after only 35 minutes, Dirt On My Diamonds, Vol.1 is a perfectly calibrated record that envelopes, in its eight songs, the rich soundscape coming from Shepherd's later records like Lay It On Down and The Traveler, the traditional Blues/Rock roots of the American singer/songwriter and Shepherd's lyrical reflections about this stage of his life and career he is living right now.
Recorded at the FAME Studios in Muscle Shoals, Alabama, Dirt On My Diamonds, Vol. 1 sees a stronger presence of Kenny Wayne Shepherd on vocals, in comparisons to previous records, perhaps to better emphasize the fact that most of the new songs part of the album, came from a much personal and deeper place of the artist's heart.
Musically, the album is certainly diverse, as previously mentioned but this aspect didn't certainly impact the quality of the songs of Shepherd's new album. Although some of the songs included into Dirt On My Diamonds, Vol.1 may have not the same melodic appeal than the Kenny Wayne Shepherd's previous album had, there are some tunes that are certainly destined to become classics, especially in Shepherd's live repertoire, like the 70's Rock infused Best Of Times, the Blues-marrying-70's Psychdelia robust Sweet & Low, the highly soulful You Can't Love and the outstanding album closure, a pure Blues/Rock hurricane of a song called Ease On My Mind.
One of the most accomplished sides of an album like Dirt On My Diamonds, Vol.1, in our view, it comes from the rawness of the sound of some of the album's songs, something that better captures, in our view, the immediacy of the performance during the recording progress.
Although, to Shepherd's long-time fans, the overall sound of the album may come across as more eclectic, in comparison especially to the early albums of the American guitarist and singer/songwriter, there is a certain coherence running through each sonic element of the individual songs of the album.
Shepherd, as always, is an authentic lyon, on electric guitar. The way he attacks the guitar and decides how to measure the length, the tone and the intensity of his guitar solos on each song, is stunningly perfect and it gets stronger and stronger as the years go by, in the career of the Louisiana-born Guitar Maestro. As a singer, his confidence and strength has grown exponentially, since the time Shepherd started singing more on a regular basis with his side project called The Rides and especially on some of his own albums, like Lay It On Down, The Traveler and now Dirt On My Diamonds, Vol.1.
Naturally, Noah Hunt's presence on vocals is still remarkably strong, on the band's new album, even if he doesn't feature as often happened on previous Kenny Wayne Shepherd's albums. Only by listening to a song like the album's closing track Ease On My Mind, one can appreciate how strong and important is still, to these days, the presence of Hunt on vocals, within the whole context of the Kenny Wayne Shepherd Band.
If it is true that the creativity and the talent of an artist can be seen and measured through the will of wanting to move forward, then Dirt On My Diamonds, Vol.1 is all that a true fan of Kenny Wayne Shepherd really could expect. A photograph in time of the maturity and musicianship of an artist that keeps on releasing records, like Dirt On My Diamond, Vol.1, which frame accurately the journey of an artist that has arrived to a point of his career where, what really matters to him, it is only to entertain the masses without corroding the essence of his musicanship, but rather willing to remain true to where he sees his musical vision moving towards to. Another very fine record from one of the most accomplished Blues/Rock artists of the last half a century of music.
Dirt On My Diamonds, Vol.1 is out now and available to be purchased at Mascot Label Group / Provogue