Sound: After the five years since Live On -- the last major album release -- Kenny Wayne Shepherd have released his long-awaited fourth record The Place You're In. For the most part of his audience this record would become a surprise -- this is the first public attempt of Shepherd as a singer -- a very worthy attempt, it must be said. The second handsome aspect is that with this album Kenny Wayne Shepherd has made the first steps forward to the world of album rock from his blues-rock background. Over a period of the whole music career Kenny Wayne was staunch blues performer, although he and his band (formed in the middle of '90s) gave the great amount of airplay on commercial radio, which historically has not been a own home for blues music.
The Place You're In can be considered as a striking example of the new level in Shepherd's music creation. Indisputably, Kenny Wayne still faithful to his past, but it's also beyond controversy that his sound became more solid and muscular: "We're all growing and changing... We might as well get behind it and enjoy the ride." It inclines from the blues-rock to the classical semi-hard rock and, as I've mentioned above, album rock. Through the listening to this album's classic rock riffs and rhythm patterns, you're continuously making sure of this. There are a lot of solos on The Place You're In, which are mostly restrained. It doesn't make the album less energetic and active though -- and prove once again that you don't need to have ten minutes of insanely fast licks to be one of the most acclaimed guitarists. The conception of the album is solid as well -- though "Hey, What Do You Say" proves to be exceptional track on the album with its clean acoustic start, soft intermediate solo and the impressive and powerful hard rock outro. Another outstanding track is the final instrumental "A Little Bit More" with its diversity of guitar nuances and most heavy sounding from the whole The Place You're In. // 10
Lyrics: In spite of the whole singularity of this album, Kenny Wayne Shepherd was, is and will be the great guitarist, playing his own inimitable style. I suppose the lyrics were put in place just to embroider the music in hands of the lucky musician. And in my humble opinion the lyrics are bit weak in places. Vocally Shepherd proved that a talented man is talented in everything and shows his singer skills suitably. It's mostly soft and composed voice, but sometimes slightly shrieking and penetrating. On "Be Mine" it's good that much to be the main "instrument" of the song.
Another good thing about The Place -- it's feature a few guest singers -- third track "Spank" has the voice of Kid Rock, sixth "Believe" and ninth "Burdens" both feature Noah Hunt (the lead singer of the band on previous albums Trouble Is and Live On), and eighth "Hey, What Do You Say" features gospel backing vocals. These musicians contribute their mites to the album and render assistance to Shepherd as a beginner vocalist. // 10
Overall Impression: Taking into consideration the fact that all three previous Kenny Wayne Shepherd's records went gold or platinum, I can make a conclusion that The Place You're In expects the same lot. It's really fresh and worthy album which brings the spirits of blues-rock of '90s to the current pop-punk and nu-metal era. It is a solid album that shows Shepherd continuous growth as the musician. All in all we'll never stop to delight with the musical talent of Kenny Wayne and we'll always look forward to his new works. // 10