Review Summary: Not as irrelevant as one would assume.
The title of the album itself speaks a certain truth, country music and country pop may currently have a bit of a stranglehold on the mainstream music world with artists such as Jason Aldean and Eric Church greatly prospering from their contemporary brand of the polished blues-pop ballads and twanging backwoods radio-anthems, but grimy and roots-heavy southern rock with gritty hard rock riffs and racy redneck party themes isn’t too terribly important anymore. Aside from some modern hard rock acts such as Theory of a Deadman and the dreaded Nickelback infusing influences from this sound in an occasional single, the southern rock breed that Lynyrd Skynyrd is a part of isn’t the current musical representation of the south, and is barely surviving without any other artists that fully embrace the sound and authentically embodies the lifestyle the music spawns from.
Fortunately, Lynryd Skynyrd have decided to attempt to adjust themselves to the current times for the thirteenth studio album under the bands name, and have in the process found a comfortable balance between the inspirational heavy southern rock of their glory days, and the modern equivalent those glory days have influenced.
Skynyrd expectedly plays by the book of the southern rock they brought to popularity (and that in turn gave them fame) that they have stayed true to and proud of for the past several decades. This is necessary in order please longtime followers which may be the only audience they have left at this point in their career. However, the rockers have taken notes of the sound’s current incarnation and strike sufficient middle-ground that modernizes their sound in a way that gives Skynyrd a strong and nimble performance while paying respects to their area of expertise.
It’s pleasantly surprising how young the group sounds on the album, age isn’t a deteriorating factor that comes into play. The music to be found on Last of a Dyin’ Breed isn’t a refresher for the southern rock genre by any means, but Skynyrd definitely sounds revitalized and fueled, and not as outdated as they could sound. This will undoubtedly please as many as it possibly can, as long time fans will not be put off by Skynyd attempting to be “hip”, and the bursts of energy that Skynyrd posses definitely benefits the appeal of the music and makes it a more enjoyable record. What’s important to note is that on their latest outing, Lynyrd Skynyrd doesn’t sound like a washed-up and burned-out band that album after album keeps trying to wring drops out of a dry rag of a genre.
Though, restored spirit aside, the album is typically unremarkable southern rock fare. Songs are predictable and forgettable with both the album’s thematic and musical aspects coming as no surprise track after track. The flames of southern heat aren’t as scorching as they used to be, and this record doesn’t have anything remotely close to spectacular ventures that will instill popularity of southern rock into the mainstream eye, but it has definitely showed that Lynyd Skynyrd has not lost any steam, and indicates that they do not plan on slowing to a halt any time soon.
In the end, it may seem a bit outdated, and a bit irrelevant, but it could sound much more outdated, much more irrelevant, and ultimately much worse if the performance quality was lacking, but is far from it in the case of this album. Irrelevancy only really affects the quality of the music in the event of it being in mundane fashion, and even though Skynyrd has made the only record they know how to make here, they seem to still have a burning passion for what they do, which raises them up above the career slump known as age, and into an albeit mediocre at best realm, but an impressive one for the extent of the genre, the modern age, and themselves.