Review Summary: Walmart rock or something more?
Those who have followed Mr. Saul Hudson throughout his career (or jammed 2-3 LPs in which he participates), will already have an idea what his latest release is about; guitar-oriented radio-friendly hard rock. So, going into a new Slash album is often a rather familiar experience since what differs among his releases is the level of execution. Nonetheless, Living the Dream
is quite refreshing and bittersweet at the same time. Refreshing, because Slash once again decided to work with the same band instead of using multiple vocalists and also because the album’s runtime is maintained at a reasonable level. As a result, his latest release is more consistent with a better flow than Slash
and is also a less tiresome listen compared to World on Fire
. At the same time, realizing that a 53-year old Slash can write better modern hard rock than a lot of acts out there without copying blatantly or sounding like a derivative of some ‘70s band is quite disappointing to think of.
Chances are that in a few months from now you will not feel the urge to jam Living the Dream
and most of you will not listen to this one more than 2-3 times. However, if you’re into sleazy hard rock which has its roots to Aerosmith and Rolling Stones or if you’re a fan of Guns N' Roses, you’ll find a few redeeming qualities here. It’s fun, uplifting, energetic, features nice melodies, plenty of hooks and some really good vocals by one of rock’s better modern vocalists. As one might expect, Slash’s playing is the highlight of the LP with an array of groovy riffs and especially great licks and solos. The songwriting isn’t anything to write home about but each track has its moments. For example, “My Antidote” with its intro riff that brings to mind “You Could Be Mine”, has some really catchy vocal lines whereas the straightforward “Mind Your Manners” is extremely memorable. Of course, there are a few changes of pace with some slower tracks such as “Lost Inside the Girl”, “The One You Loved Is Gone” and “The Great Pretender”, even though the latter two are among the least interesting songs of the album as they tend to border on corny. Another aspect that won’t impress, is the loud production which doesn’t suit particularly a hard rock LP; a more vintage sound closer to AC/DC’s with Robert John "Mutt" Lange might have been much more appropriate.
To sum up, Living the Dream
won’t add anything spectacular to Slash’s resume but it won’t subtract either. Granted, the songwriting is a bit better than average and these guys play it really safe. However, Slash’s performance is enough to make the album a very enjoyable listen as he still seems to be able to write great solos that not only fit the songs but also improve them. Not bad for a 53-year old rocker.