Slash Feat. Myles Kennedy & the Conspirators – 4
Released: February 11, 2022
Slash // lead guitar
Myles Kennedy // lead vocals
Brent Fitz // drums
Todd Kerns // bass/vocals
Frank Sidoris // rhythm guitar
In these uncertain times it is great to have some old reliables to lean on. Despite being decidedly “uncool” these days, rock ‘n’ roll never dies. When it comes to reliability there are few I would bank on more than Slash. You know exactly what you are going to get — awesome and interesting guitar work with a ton of soul and swagger. His fourth full collaboration with Myles Kennedy and the Conspirators (SMKC) is another fun effort of rock tunes suited to sweaty clubs and stadium stages. While previous records such as World on Fire were a little bloated, and their last album Living the Dream moved between rockier numbers and power ballads, 4 finds the band locked in and streamlined. Straight up, 4 is a record that could be played live without missing a beat or getting dull. Slash has been mucking around with sounds and tones which makes this release a great continuation of his Guns ‘n’ Roses, Velvet Revolver, Snakepit and SMKC work while still adding something new to his legacy.
It kicks off with the totally badass single ‘The River is Rising’ with trademark Slash shredding over a heavy rhythm. It’s a cracking opener with a huge singalong chorus that’s instantly memorable. There’s no fat, the riff and back end is lean and mean, giving Kennedy plenty of room to wail. And then the coda hits and it’s a thrash-fest, double time headbanging, fist pumping stuff. ‘Whatever Gets You By’ changes it up with a mid tempo stomp, Brent Fitz and Todd Kerns getting to show a bit on drums and bass respectively. It’s a groovy number with a frenzied solo. ‘C’est la vie’ is a cool track with Slash’s voice box work leading the riff and another anthemic chorus. It feels spontaneous to be honest, a sign that the band recorded it live with less overdubs than might be usually required. It gives the whole record a live sound that seeps out of the speakers and really grabs you by the ears and hips. The anthems continue with ‘The Path Less Followed’, another one about living life to the fullest and making choices to suit yourself. There’s definitely a tendency to use cliches, a criticism some have had of Kennedy’s lyrics in the past. It suits the spirit of the music though, this is good time rock ‘n’ roll after all.
As mentioned, while a lot of this is very familiar, the band takes the chance to try out some new sounds. There’s the cowbell, wah-wah boogie of ‘Actions Speak Louder Than Words’, the sole example that they worked with noted country producer Dave Cobb. It’s not a country tune but has a looser vibe and almost sounds like it could totally come apart at any moment. That’s good rock ‘n’ roll as far as I’m concerned. Slash pulls out the electric sitar for the intro to ‘Spirit Love’ and it’s totally badass as you’d imagine. It descends into a heavy psychedelic riff, making it one of the album’s standouts. Kennedy is on fire here too, it’s sweaty, sexy and romantic — more ‘Rocket Queen’ than ‘Sweet Child of Mine’ though (to make a Gunners comparison). Speaking of Slash’s most famous riff, second single ‘Fill My World’ has that ‘Sweet Child…’ sound, with Kennedy crooning on the verses, a love song for his dog. It’s a decent power ballad but almost feels overly similar and lacks the emotional depth of ‘Bent to Fly’ or ‘Lost Inside the Girl’. It’s sincere, don’t get me wrong, and does work as the sole pop-rock song like that among the ten tracks. It also shows Slash’s ability to elevate an otherwise mundane tune with his great expressive solo work.
It’s not all love songs and dedications — our guys can still throw down. ‘April Fool’ is a funk fueled track from the Joe Perry school of blues rock. If there’s one thing lacking it’s that there aren’t enough uptempo tracks. While Apocalyptic Love and World on Fire both mixed up tempos fairly often, 4 has just the one. ‘Call off the Dogs’ is that ripper, Slash in slasher mode, hammering the strings and jumping up and down. The band really fire on tunes like this and it’s a fuckin’ delight. It’s a rampage that echoes back to his fiery work with early Guns ‘n’ Roses. It closes out with what Slash calls “the epic” ‘Fall Back to Earth’. Slash channels his infamous ‘Godfather solo’ on the chorus with a twisting lead while Frank Sidoris keeps the rhythm going. It’s comfortably the longest track on the album and ending with a cinematic, dramatic tune really suits the album. It’s not something SMKC has done too often, so again it’s both familiar in Slash’s canon but fresh in this project. There are shifts in tone that will have you nodding your head in approval and good luck trying to hit Kennedy’s notes as the song climaxes and ends the album on a high pitched guitar note.
I’ll just put this simply. Thank fuck for Slash and crew. Rock ‘n’ Roll is awesome when it is done right and there are few who are continuing the guitar playing legacy like Slash, Myles Kennedy and the Conspirators. I mean it’s basically Slash and Jack White right? If you have tuned out of Slash’s solo work after his guest loaded debut, but still spin Appetite for Destruction every weekend, then 4 is the album to draw you back in. Slash has kept that hard rock sound going across his legacy, while GnR dabbles in a broader rock sound (see their 2021 singles). So pour a Jack Daniels and throw on this record instead and rock the hell out.
Slash feat. Myles Kennedy & The Conspirators – 4 tracklisting:
1. The River Is Rising
2. Actions Speak Louder Than Words
3. C’est la vie
4. The Path Less Followed
5. Actions Speak Louder Than Words
6. Spirit Love
7. Fill My World
8. April Fool
9. Call Off The Dogs
10. Fall Back To Earth
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