FACING THE GHOSTS OF THE PAST
ALTER BRIDGE man channels tragedy and redemption on solo debut
Life often gives us more questions than answers. On Alter Bridge’s 2016 offering, The Last Hero, Myles Kennedy asked where all the heroes are in our age of concrete and silicon chips, emboldened by the mighty roar of Marshall stacks. By comparison, Myles’ first solo record, Year Of The Tiger, sees him cutting a quieter, more gentle figure, as he uses this new outlet to confront the ghosts of his past. From the opening title-track, he makes a bid to ’Run a thousand miles
beyond this house of pain,’ over rolling acoustic guitar, before shivering slide and plaintive mandolin blow away an ill memory of a ’Cold, cruel July.’ He may ramble on in the same manner as Led Zeppelin at their most pared back and dreamy here, but a shadow of the past remains close behind throughout.
The hurt lying just below the skin of these songs stems from the death of his father over four decades ago, when Myles was just four years old. The confusion of the event is addressed in The Great Beyond, climaxing in a babble of strings and tremolo-picked guitar. On Blind Faith’s Delta blues, Myles wrestles with his ambivalence towards religion and the avoidable nature of his father’s death, after he refused medical treatment for what turned out to be appendicitis as part of his Christian Science beliefs. ’Faith can be blind,’ Myles reasons, ’but it cannot justify the tragedy of a love’s
demise we can’t replace.’
Out of this uncertainty, the figure of strength that emerges is his mother, and much of the album is written from her perspective. Ghost Of Shangri La’s slinky folk-blues empathises with her having to shoulder grief to care for Myles and his brother. It’s a resolve that Myles pays tribute to again on Mother, with a Jimmy Page-esque raga-blues shakedown – one of many here – and he finds resolution in the line, ’When all hope was left to die /
Your love for me survived.’ As much as loss permeates Year Of The Tiger, however, it is in love – the force that binds Myles to both his departed father and his living mother – that this wandering soul finds a resting place. As he observes on closer One Fine Day, ’The promise still remains of what’s to
come.’ This masterful record may appear to be wearing funereal blacks, but Myles Kennedy has his sights set on a brighter road ahead.