Type: Hard Edged Blues
This album makes me wonder if reincarnation is a reality. Young Kenny has Stevie Ray Vaughan's patented Strat tone down pat, as well as much of his playing style. The first time I heard him, I thought it was an unreleased Stevie Ray track with a different vocalist. At first, this turned me off, but it has now been two years since Ledbetter Heights came out, and I have a different perspective. I have decided that Kenny is not trying to make money off of Stevie's chops, he is merely greatly influenced by him. This is no different than Stevie himself building a reputation on his interpretations of Lonnie Mack, Albert King and Jimi Hendrix. Shepherd makes all the appropriate nods to the blues greats that made his music possible and covers some classics on this first release as well.
Most of this album is pure KWS, though. Kenny is trying very hard to show that he does have his own voice on guitar. His cover of "Aberdeen" demonstrates his dexterity at slide guitar, with two different slide parts playing in perfect synch and pitch in either channel of the mix. "Riverside" features slide as well, though this in a lazy day feeling blues ballad. If I had to pick a direction in which Shepherd is most likely to establish a distinctive voice, I would say that his slide playing was it.
He handles straight electric blues tunes very well also. In fact, the more I listen to this album the more I like it and wonder where such a young talent could come from. There's that reincarnation thing again, but he can't be reincarnated from Stevie because he knew Stevie. Hmmm....
I look forward to future albums by this young guitar monster. I also hope he is successful in dispelling the rumors about his motivation and can continue to develop his own style. If he keeps playing like this, he will. He needs to pay his dues before being ranked among the top players, but I don't think it will take long for his dues to be paid up.
Rating (out of a possible five):