More than three years after the release of its then latest album, Living the Dream, the collective of Slash ft. Myles Kennedy & The Conspirators will release its new album next week. More specifically, it is scheduled for release Feb. 11 through Gibson Records. The aptly-titled album, 4, is the group’s fourth studio recording and has already produced three singles. It has also been promoted through plenty of recent TV appearances. Those performances and singles have helped audiences get a good idea of the 42-minute record’s overall picture, but they are just a glimpse of how much this record has to offer. Listening through the remainder of the album, audiences will find that its overall musical presentation has much to appreciate. It will be discussed shortly. The lyrical themes that accompany the record’s musical arrangements are of their own interest and will be discussed a little later. The record’s sequencing rounds out its most important elements and will also be discussed later. Each item noted is important in its own way to the whole of 4. All things considered, 4 proves itself to be among the best of the year’s new rock records so far.
Slash ft. Myles Kennedy & The Conspirators’ forthcoming album 4 is a strong new offering from the super group of sorts. That is due in part to its featured musical arrangements. The three singles that the album has produced have already done well to make that clear. ‘Call Off The Dogs,’ the group’s latest single for instance, clearly brings in Kennedy’s Alter Bridge influence with its rich, melodic guitar line alongside Kennedy’s own powerful vocals. At the same time, Slash’s performance incorporates his own rock leanings to make for an interesting combination of influences. The interest generated through that combination of sounds and stylistic approaches makes the song so rich and unique in the bigger picture of the album and in comparison to other rock compositions released so far this year.
The group offers more variance in the record’s musical side through its performance of ‘Actions Speak Louder Than Words.’ The song’s arrangement is a clear neo-classic rock style composition that also brings in the most subtle hint of stoner rock. The production that went into the song brought those influences out clearly, too. The result is a work that is fully immersive and that stands out so well from its counterparts in this record (and even in the band’s existing catalog).
Much earlier in the album (the record’s second song to be precise), audiences get a touch of stoner/hard rock leanings in ‘Whatever Gets You By.’ The rich, plodding guitar line and overall instrumentation used in the song’s verses conjures thoughts of The Toadies’ hit song ‘Possum Kingdom.’ That is not to say the two songs are identical by any means. It is just to say that stylistically speaking, the similarity is there. That is meant in the most complimentary fashion considering how enjoyable ‘Possum Kingdom’ is to this day. The contrast of the more melodic choruses is even similar between the songs. Again, ‘Whatever Gets You By’ is still its own work separate of ‘Possum Kingdom,’ so it is still so enjoyable in its own right even with the similarities in sound and style. It is just one more example of how much this record’s musical content does to make the album in whole successful. When it is considered along with the other songs examined here and with the rest of the album’s songs, the role that the album’s musical arrangements play becomes that much clearer and in turn more important.
While the musical arrangements featured in this album are unquestionably important to its overall presentation, they are just part of what makes the record engaging and entertaining. The record’s lyrical themes also play into its success. The lyrical themes featured throughout the album are largely accessible, though at some points, open for interpretation. Right from the album’s outset, audiences get a sociopolitical commentary in the lyrical content of ‘The River is Rising.’ Kennedy explained the song’s lyrical theme during a recent interview, explaining that it addresses how easily humans are brainwashed. That message is delivered in unique fashion as Kennedy sings in the song’s lead verse and chorus, “Another fool for rage/Another truth betrayed/Another lackey out of line/Torture and rip-apart/What was the pure of heart/Poison the well/And push the lie/All in the name of nothing/Have we been hypnotized/No doubt the end is coming/We’re out of time/Hang on/The river is rising/Hold strong/The tide is high/Will we drown in paradise?” That last line, asking, “Will we drown in paradise?” is telling. It is a cynical question that highlights the reality that we are in a bad state. It asks what is going to happen to society in what is supposed to be a wonderful situation, but is in reality anything but a utopia. Again, this is a great, unique way to deliver a familiar message. The second verse continues the noted message as Kennedy sings, “Another wicked scheme/Another static dream/Indoctrination for the blind.” This line plays with into the deliver of the song’s lead verse, furthering the message even more. The sense of frustration with everything going on that is established through these verses couples with the energy to really help make the song’s lyrical content that much more hard hitting. It is just one example of what makes the album’s lyrical content so important. ‘Fill My World’ is another example of that importance.
While lyrics were not available for this critic’s review of 4, enough of the content can be deciphered to infer that this song is another familiar work that centers on a broken relationship. This is made obvious early on as the subject sings about ‘Holding on that you’ll return to me”; this after already singing about wondering “if you really cared at all.” If this is not a direct reference to a breakup, then one can only guess at what is said reference. When this fully relatable theme pairs with the emotion in the song’s musical content, it makes that theme hit home even harder for audiences.
‘April Fool’ is yet another song whose lyrical theme proves relatively relatable from what can be deciphered sans lyrics. In the case of this song, it comes across as being sung from the standpoint of someone who has been wronged by another for too long and is fed up with the mistreatment. It does not have to necessarily, either. The subject comes right out in the song’s chorus and goes so far as to tell that other person, “The joke’s on you” because the subject won’t be that person’s fool anymore. The verses have mentions of being fed up with the inferred mistreatment, too. All things considered here, the whole again comes across as a fully relatable theme for any listener. When the high energy in the song’s musical arrangement pairs with the sense of frustration in the song’s seeming message, that lyrical theme gains even more power. When this theme is considered along with the others examined here and with the rest of the album’s lyrical content, that whole makes for even more engagement and entertainment. When it is considered along with the record’s overall musical content, the whole makes the album’s overall content reason enough for audiences to give this album a chance and then some. Keeping that in mind, there is still one more item to examine here. That item is the sequencing of that content.
The sequencing used in 4 is important because it takes into account, the diversity in the record’s overall content. At the same time, the energy in the songs’ arrangements remains relatively stable from beginning to end. From the neo-classic rock sounds and styles to the more borderline hard rock and stoner rock sounds and styles, each song is different from the last in its arrangement. That duality is enough to keep audiences engaged and entertained. Add in that the songs’ lyrical themes change just enough throughout, too, and the album gains even more appeal. The end result of the well thought out sequencing of all of this content is that it completes the picture painted here. When its positive impact is considered along with the record’s overall content, the whole makes 4 easily one of the best new rock records of the year so far.
Slash ft. Myles Kennedy & The Conspirators’ forthcoming album, 4, is another impressive new offering from the rock super group. That is proven through its musical and lyrical content alike. The arrangements offer audiences a variety of rock styles and sounds from one to the next. Along the way, each arrangement is fully accessible. The songs’ lyrical themes are just as accessible, offering audiences topics to which they will relate. The sequencing of that content puts the final touch to the record. It ensures that as the songs progress from start to end, the record’s energy remains stable even as the songs change. Each item examined plays its own important part to the whole of the album’s presentation. All things considered, they make 4 an impressive new addition to this year’s field of rock records.
4 is scheduled for release Feb.11 through Gibson Records. More information on Slash ft. Myles Kennedy & The Conspirators’ new album is available along with all of the group’s latest news at: