Liverpool Sound and Vision Rating 8.5/10
They say that life is a journey, that every moment is filled with ability to take a pencil out of your coat pocket, find a clear page in a notebook and consider the achievement of crossing over the bridge, of metaphorically scaling the height of something as tall and monumental and as historic as the Louisiana State Capitol Building or navigating the mighty Sabine River; life is a journey, life demands that anything you believe notable should be written about and above all you should Lay It On Down for others to conjure and wish to experience.
Whilst one of the godfather of American poetic verse was not forth coming with admiration for Sabine River, recording it as, “…the mansion of the snake”, for Kenny Wayne Shepherd this metaphorical pass through Louisiana, the abandonment by Kerouac but the embracing by a 21st Century keeper of the documented voyage is anything but snake like or evil. It is the harmony that gives music its distinct and beautiful flavour and character and makes you want to explore not just the notes on the page written in pencil but those notes of harmony that linger long in the air and in the memory.
It is apt then the album, like the undiscovered country, seems to be one of continually breaking new ground, that the testimony of the age is registered by one who sees the music so clearly that the map provided by the past and of ignorance is dismissed and the artist’s impression of now is the one that is important.
Recorded in Echophone Studios in Louisiana, the album touches a lot of willing nerves, it asks the listener to dispel all that they know and to feel a new sense of understanding, of taking songs such as Diamonds & Gold, Hard Lesson Learned, the fascinating and altogether alluring Louisiana Rain, Ride of Your life and smoking vibe, almost Kerouac musing of Nothing But The Night, the feeling of being home is prevalent but also the urging to go beyond the limitations of those that went before you is positive and clear.
Lay It On Down, remember it, take advantage of the senses gifted you, for in the Kenny Wayne Shepherd’s Band, the mansion of the snake is a river to whom life springs eternal bounty, to whom life is always worth noting.
Kenny Wayne Shepherd Band’s Lay It On Down is released on July 21st via Provogue.
Ian D. Hall