Q - 8/00, p.1243 stars out of 5
- "Rock-solid 1995 debut from precocious, flaxen-headed bluesman....those fingers generate some heat."
The Kenny Wayne Shepherd Band: Kenny Wayne Shepherd (vocals, guitar); Corey Sterling (vocals); Joe Nadeau (guitar); Jimmy Wallace (keyboards, percussion); Will Ainsworth (bass); Kevin Smith (drums).
Producers: David Z, Ken Shepherd.
Engineers: David Z, Rob Smith & Associates.
Recorded at House Of Blues, Memphis, Tennessee; Oceanway Studios, Hollywood, California; Funkytown, Minneapolis, Minnesota. Includes liner notes by James Brown.
Personnel: Kenny Wayne Shepherd (vocals, guitar).
Recording information: Funkytown, Minneapolis, MN; House of Blues Studios, Memphis, TN; Ocean Way Recording Studios, Hollywood, CA; Red River Revel, Shreveport, LA [live].
Unknown Contributor Role: Bill Ainsworth.
Since Stevie Ray Vaughan's untimely death in 1990, there has been a fear that the future of popular blues died with him. Kenny Wayne Shepherd's debut does much to dispel these concerns. Hugely influenced by the late Texan, this 18 year-old prodigy first picked up the guitar after watching an SRV show from atop one of Vaughan's amps when he was eight. Shepherd's decade-long woodshedding pays off on an album that incorporates versatility and passion missing in musicians twice his age.
The Shreveport native moves naturally from traditional country blues, combining steel guitar and a biting slide ("Aberdeen"), to slow Buddy Guy-styled emotiveness that gets fleshed out by southside-Chicago piano lines ("Shame, Shame, "Shame"). While Shepherd channels Howlin' Wolf's "I'm Leaving You" with the same aggresiveness that Vaughan did, his finest moment comes on a live instrumental called "While We Cry." Starting out inspired by Hendrix's gentler side, Shepherd builds up to a Claptonian pitch egged on by an appreciative crowd--at once defining himself and resurrecting the muse that was seemingly lost on a foggy night in 1990.