Personnel: Kenny Wayne Shepherd (vocals, guitar, acoustic guitar); Noah Hunt, Kid Rock (vocals); Marti Frederiksen (guitar, Hammond b-3 organ, keyboards, bass guitar, percussion, background vocals); Mikal Reid (guitar); Jim Cox (piano, Clavinet, Hammond b-3 organ); Brian Tichy (drums); Pat Hodges (background vocals).
Saddled with the "blues wunderkind" tag since breaking on the music scene with 1995's LEDBETTER HEIGHTS at age 18, Kenny Wayne Shepherd used a five-year hiatus that began in '99 as a step to the next level. The result is 2004's THE PLACE YOU'RE IN, a project helmed by producer Marti Frederiksen that takes more of a hard-rock approach, a move sure to surprise some of Shepherd's diehard blues fans. The album also marks the first time Shepherd sings over the course of an entire record.
Despite theses changes of tack, the Louisiana native's string-bending skills are still something to hear, from the very Lenny Kravitz-like funk of "Be Mine" to the Blue Cheer-y instrumental "A Little Bit More." The quality of Shepherd's singing is impressive, thanks to smooth phrasing that works particularly well on the soulful, piano-based "Hey, What Do You Say" and "Spank," a funky strut that doubles as a Kid Rock duet. Longtime fans will be relieved to discover Shepherd's former vocalist Noah Hunt putting in cameos, both on the soaring "Believe" and pleading power-ballad "Burdens."