Returning once again to the forefront of Rock’s most anticipated releases, Slash Featuring Myles Kennedy and The Conspirators sent a flourish of excitement out through the community with the announcement of their third studio release, ‘Living The Dream’. With the bands latest instalment set to drop September 21st, expectations run high for what will be delivered from this exceptionally talented cohort of musicians.
Despite a four year wait since we were last graced with a record from Slash and co, the man has not been lazing around practicing pulling rabbits out of top hats. No, the legendary guitarist rejoined Guns N’Roses and has been around the world a few times over, breaking tour records while he does it. But, he was adamant to get back to making a third record, stating “I always planned on getting back together with the Conspirators as soon as possible, and continuing on with what we started,” and he remained true to his word.
Once the initial adrenaline rush subsides, a mere second spin into the album, the penny drops, and we find that ‘Living The Dream’ kicks off to a rather conventional start. Opening tracks “The Call Of The Wild” and “Serve You Right”, both unfortunately make no great strides in deviating outside of the straight up, good ol’ Rock n’ Roll spirit. Fine, if you’ve no bone to pick with hearing this formula of high octane riffing coupled with soaring vocals all being rehashed and recycled beyond the point of sanity. However, if you hunger for something more, a drizzle of spectacular musical ingenuity, you won’t find it in the opening moments. Though fear not, for they lie not too far ahead.
“The Antidote” is a riff ripping, tempo fluctuating, wah-pedal riddled good time. It would come as little surprise if it were to eventually be disclosed as having been hand picked from the Velvet Revolver vault as it embodies the same raw, rebellious spirit of the once supergroup. Further on, caressing a different itch, “Lost Inside The Girl” teeters between big, beautiful ballad and dramatic longing to wonderful impact. With its love song chorus brining life to its dark, brooding yet addictive verses, you will find this track entering the realm of the repeat button before long.
There is simply no other contender for album standout, as it is rightly and tenderly claimed by “The One You Loved Is Gone”. Kennedy (Alter Bridge) is not only at some of his lyrical best here, but the singers stripped back, even somber approach to his vocal delivery conveys the heart of the song in a way that only he can. All topped off with (though one of many) a solo from Slash that unmistakably comes from the gut. Musically, the unsung heroes found in the Conspirators, comprised of bassist Tod Kerns, drummer Brent Fitz, and making his record debut after years of live work with the band, rhythm guitarist Frank Sidoris, make up a strong, integral backbone to the song and album overall.
It may be cited as a direct follow up to the 2014’s, ‘World On Fire’, but in truth, a great deal of the record plays it safe in comparison. Sadly, it suffers because of it. That said, there are some triumphs, too. Where ‘Living The Dream’ excels is in not in its batch of straightforward hard rock, but in its less structured, brave sonic scope. And luckily, there is a handsome amount of exactly that, and so the top hat axeman strikes yet again.