Review Summary: "If there is a God, why did he take my father’s soul?"
After spending the last two decades fronting hard rock bands, Year of the Tiger
is a fresh and intriguing new direction for Myles Kennedy. As a concept album, it’s heart-wrenching and deeply personal for Myles, dealing with the loss of his father at a young age after his father refused medical treatment due to his Christian Science beliefs. Grief and loss are pervasive themes on the album, as well as Myles’ own questioning of his childhood faith, something which was previously touched on in ABIII
but given greater context and emotional weight on Year of the Tiger
. Ultimately, however, as the album reflects him processing his own difficult history, it also becomes more hopeful by the end, highlighting his mother’s strength and resilience and projecting a positive vision for the future.
Musically, it’s a fun and engaging album, even with the heavier subject matter. Myles trades in the charged metal riffs of his main band for mandolin and lap steel guitar, getting to play to his strengths as a songwriter in ways that he hasn’t been able to fully explore with Alter Bridge or Slash. The blues and folk-infused songs on Year of the Tiger
end up being an excellent match to his vocal and musical sensibilities. From the rollicking, lyrically evocative title track and the bluesy swagger of ‘Devil on the Wall’, to the more subdued and contemplative ‘Haunted by Design’, the album moves at a steady pace and never hits a lull. Myles’ skill as a guitarist shines throughout the album, with consistently engaging riffs and intricate playing. He also delivers some of his strongest vocal performances to date, particularly on ‘The Great Beyond’, whose bombastic, string-assisted hooks are the closest the album gets to the intensity of his Alter Bridge material.
Although it took years to come to fruition, Myles Kennedy’s solo debut is worth the wait. It’s melodically pleasing and more lyrically affecting than anything else he’s been a part of. As great as he’s done in delivering a signature brand of melodic heavy rock with Alter Bridge, the more intimate material found in Year of the Tiger
is a promising new direction which hopefully leads to more from Myles as a solo artist in the future. Created as a work of catharsis, it’s a powerful, resonant album that does justice to its subject matter.