Trouble Is was Kenny Wayne Shepherds second album and was released in 1997 when he was 18 years old. It became the biggest album of his career thus far and produced the hit “Blue on Black.” The original idea was to base his 25th anniversary tour on Ledbetter Heights, his 1995 inaugural album. Unfortunately, the tour was postponed for two years because of the pandemic so Trouble Is replaced the 1995 release. The set list for nearly every show included most of if not all the cuts from the album.
The result was an invigorated enthusiasm for the songs on the album that reignited modern blues upon its release 25 years ago. That enthusiasm led Kenny to the studio to re-record the entire album with all the original band members. The newly recorded album will be released on December 2 via Provogue Records/Mascot Label Group. The Japanese release of the original album included “Voodoo Child Slight Return” as a bonus track, while the new version will include “Ballad of a Thin Man” instead, for everyone. The album includes a DVD of a concert at the Strand Theater in Shreveport, Louisiana, Kenny’s hometown as well as a documentary detailing how the original album was made.
The album kicks off with “Slow Ride” which Shepherd co-wrote with Danny Tate and Mark Selby. It’s a blow the roof off opener that sets the pace for the next dozen cuts. “True Lies” was co-written with Danny Tate but according to Kenny at that point in his career, he wasn’t confident enough in his songwriting to claim a song as totally his own. Even though sometimes he had a song completely finished he sought collaboration to dilute the blame if it failed. Mark Selby and especially Tia Sillers were the key contributors in the case of “Blue on Black” Shepherd’s signature song.
“Everything is Broken” is a cover song by Bob Dylan from 1989’s Oh Mercy album with Chris Layton’s exploding driving drums accompanying Kenny’s driving guitar along with stellar solo embellishments. “I Don’t Live Today” comes from Jimi Hendrix’s debut album with the “Experience” that Kenny and Noah interpret perfectly. “(Long) Gone” is another composition by Kenny with Tate and Selby that is harmonica driven. “Somehow, Somewhere, Someway” is a song about attracting the attention of a love interest as expressed through the emotions interpreted by his skyrocketing guitar peals.
“I Found Love When I Found You” is the answer to the previous song. In concert, Kenny will explain that many fans over the years have written to him about using the song at their wedding ceremony. “King’s Highway” has a Stevie Ray Vaughan feel to it with its choppy rhythm. It’s another co-authored composition with Tia Sillers and Mark Selby. “Nothing to Do with Love” is a song about a tragic breakup between two people supposedly in love. The song has a 1970s R&B rhythm to it as Kenny plays the wah-wah pedal and Noah sings “it ain’t nothing to do with love.”
Track #11 is a Texas styled rocker called “Chase the Rainbow” where Kenny intersperses tasty guitar licks in between the band’s foundational jam and Hunt’s vocals. The album’s title song was the final cut on the 1997 American release. It has a Hendrix flavor to it and is an instrumental jam with Kenny dominating. The final cut is Bob Dylan’s “Ballad Of a Thin Man” from his 1965 album Highway 61 Revisited. Shepherd’s nimble stratospheric guitar notes intersperse Hunt’s voice singing:
“You know something is happening here but you don’t know what it is do you Mr. Jones.”
After both attending a Kenny Wayne Shepherd concert in 1997 and 2022 along with listening to both the original and the newly recorded Trouble Is…25 one thing is certain, Kenny Wayne Shepherd was a phenomenal guitar player when he was 18 years old and he is still just as proficient if not more 25 years later in 2022. The album is as perfect as one can get along with the documentary and concert DVD.
The Review 10/10
– Slow Ride
– (Long) Gone
– Blue on Black
– Somehow, Somewhere, Someway
– Ballad of a Thin Man
The Big Hit
– Blue on Black
Buy the album/DVD: Amazon