Review Summary: A solid rock album, and a display of Myles Kennedy's potential as a vocalist well before joining Alter Bridge.
Myles Kennedy’s musical history is less well-known than that of his bandmates in Alter Bridge. In the years prior to joining guitarist Mark Tremonti after Mark’s departure from Creed, he was the frontman for the rock band Mayfield Four. The band never reached a very high level of success despite constant touring, and their albums have actually become more popular now during the Alter Bridge era than when they were originally released. The lack of a big single or strong promotion from the label would unfortunately lead Mayfield Four to disband after only two albums. The first, Fallout
, was a more bluesy, laidback album, and while it was a decent effort, it wasn’t very memorable. The band’s sophomore effort, Second Skin
, was a strong improvement, transitioning into a hard rock style that let Myles display his multi-octave range more effectively.
It would be easy to just look at this as “The Myles Kennedy Project” due to the fact that his vocals are far and away the highlight of the album throughout, but the band backs him up competently. There aren’t any massive riffs or solos to be found here, but the musicianship manages to be fairly diverse for a rock album and mostly avoids falling into boring power chords. Most songs are driven by simple, catchy guitar riffs that provide a solid backbone to Kennedy’s stellar vocal performances. You’d never see straightforward 3-minute rockers like Lyla
on an Alter Bridge album but they are very effective here and show great band chemistry, and more importantly, the songs just rock hard. The album’s greatest highlights, however, are those which just leave Myles to shine. Mars Hotel
is a more ballad-like number that displays his talent for great melodies with a wonderful harmonized chorus. Closer Summergirl
is one of his finest performances to date, building from a slow, gentle beginning to an extended high note at the end that concludes the album with power and really demonstrates what he is capable of vocally.
Ultimately, Second Skin
is just an extremely solid rock album that flew by under the radar. While Kennedy has gone on to achieve his greatest success in Alter Bridge, his potential as a vocalist existed long before then. Although there are a few instances that foreshadow his work in Alter Bridge (Eden
would fit in quite well on One Day Remains
), Second Skin
stands up well on its own, and is worth a listen to any Alter Bridge fans to see how well Kennedy can do with a simpler sound. It is not a genre-defining release by any measure, but it is a consistently enjoyable piece of modern rock that hints at the greater accomplishments Myles would soon achieve with his next band.