Review: Myles Kennedy’s Emotional Story Behind Year of the Tiger

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Years of sadness and pain. A mother left alone to raise two boys. A life of internal struggle. That is only a mere fraction of Myles Kennedy’s experience losing his father as a child. But out of the ashes of those occurrences, rises Year of the Tiger.

You know Kennedy as the wailing singer of Alter Bridge, and Slash and the Conspirators, but you’ve never known him quite like this.

Year of the Tiger is a concept album that tells the story that Kennedy has been brushing off his entire life. His dad passed away due to an illness that he declined treatment for because of his religious beliefs, leaving two young sons and a wife behind. Gaining major success as a singer and songwriter, Kennedy knew he eventually wanted to write about this tender part of his life, but did not know how to tackle it without reopening the scars.

Then, he finally realized he would have to.

He actually wrote his first rendition of a solo record years ago, but scrapped it and decided to start over. The second time around, he was getting signs from every angle that it was time to dig deep – “Year of the Tiger” was already a song idea in his mind before he realized the actual year of the tiger on the Chinese Calendar was the same as his father’s passing.

But this isn’t a typical gloomy album about loss filled with depressing ballads. Acoustic guitars, banjos, lap steels – Year of the Tiger is a complete aural metamorphosis from Kennedy’s prior works, aside from staying true to his distinct voice and versatile range. He was able to reflect a lot of his older, more bluesy influences, while adding a southern-folk twang. Sure, the lyrics convey a lot of his grief about the loss and anger about the way it happened. But upbeat, foot-tapping tempos behind somber lyrics creates the perfect musical juxtaposition – combining sadness with perseverance. Emphasizing that tragedies are a part of life, but that it goes on.

The album starts with the title track, which is evidently told from his mother’s perspective: In the year of the tiger, I got my kin to save. And I’ll be damned to see them suffer one more day. The rest of it portrays his emotional journey chronologically.

“The Great Beyond” is magnificent in sound when put up against the rest, which is metaphorical as it focuses on death. “Blind Faith” and “Nothing But a Name” channel resentment toward his father’s decision to allow his sickness to take him. “Devil on the Wall” and “Haunted by Design” center on the depression and anxiety that have been shadowing him his entire life. Others are his painted depiction of what life was like with a little brother and single mother. The final song, “One Fine Day,” is the light at the end of the tunnel – eventually the pain gets easier to deal with.

None of the tracks on the album are musically or lyrically filler. It’s the anecdotal album of Kennedy’s life thus far, beginning with despair and ending with hope. And everything in between will have you feeling reminiscent and wanting to hug your parents, all while bobbing your head to the Bo Diddley beats.

Year of the Tiger comes out March 9th.

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Lauryn is a contributing writer for Alternative Nation, primarily doing show/album reviews, editorials, video reporting, and interviews with bands like The Pretty Reckless, Seether, and Greta Van Fleet. First and foremost a huge Guns N’ Roses fan, she’s big on classic rock and grunge, with taste spanning from The Doors to Alice in Chains. You can either see Lauryn at a rock festival, or driving across the country to get to one. Lauryn loves getting feedback and tips. You can reach her at laurynschaffner @yahoo.com , as long as it's related to rock.