From Alter Bridge to the Conspirators, Myles Kennedy has made his bones being a top-shelf, highly unique vocalist. At 51 years old, he’s yet to show any signs of vocal decline, as evidenced by his performance on Alter Bridge’s Walk The Sky album two years ago. A year before the release of Alter’s latest LP, he put out his stripped-down solo debut Year Of The Tiger which garnered generally positive reviews due to its stylistic departure and introspection. When it came to his new follow-up The Ides Of March, Myles’ formula was fairly simple: He ventured back to full rock and threw in rootsy, acoustic elements from Year Of The Tiger when it was called for.
Indeed, Ides does begin on a very straightforward note with “Get Along”, a recalling of the Rodney King riots that played out again last year. Sonically it’s nothing out of the ordinary, thus why “A Thousand Words”, with its folkier spin and intricate groove is slapped in right after so listener’s boredom doesn’t get a chance to set in. Right after is the slide-heavy blues of “In Stride”, energizing and mixing things up even more so the chiller title track doesn’t feel like so much of a drop. “Wake Me When It’s Over” will strike a chord, if you will with people going through it under lockdown, though Myles does his best to lace his chronicle of stuck-at-home stress with optimism and hope for brighter days.
“Love Rain Down” brings back the steel and acoustics to keep the dynamic versatility of Ides going, bleeding over into the unapologetically old-school “Tell It Like It Is”, a Myles-d up potpourri of bluesy 70’s hard rock. “Moonshot” keeps the slide elements going and showcases Myles’ best vocal performance on the record thus far; his harmonies on the chorus ringing out perfectly amidst the roots-blues backdrop he’s solidified over the last number of tracks (and the previous album). “Wanderlust Begins” dives headfirst into folk, a logical choice given the path the sequencing has taken starting with “Love Rain Down” but the beginning of the Tiger side of Ides hitting the exhaustion point. Thankfully “Sifting Through The Fire” strikes a cohesive balance in the vein of the Allman Brothers Band and returns to rockier ground, leading into the closer “Worried Mind”; a blues track that does its job for this record: Do unadulterated blues-rock in a way that hasn’t been played out to redundancy by a million acts that came before.
With The Ides Of March, we see the most accurate representation yet of everything Myles Kennedy has picked up and created as a frontman, sideman and solo artist. The stripped-back blues and folk textures of his first solo album are expertly melded into the electric stew of the follow-up, and its sequencing ensures there is a vibrant versatility throughout that, while it approaches, ultimately avoids any creative ruts. Whatever comes next with Myles- a new Alter Bridge record, or perhaps something with Slash, it’ll be worth the wait, and it’ll be even more worthwhile to see how the next piece of his catalog fuels him individually the next time he puts one of these out.