Slash is an instantly recognisable guitar legend both sonically and as an icon.
The mammoth world tour associated with the incredibly financially rewarding reunion of Guns N’ Roses has meant that his own project with his band of hired hands has taken a back seat. Meanwhile, his vocalist of choice, the multi-talented Myles Kennedy, had returned to his day job of fronting Alter Bridge plus releasing his own solo album. Now with the Gunners world domination tour finally wrapped up, Slash’s new album Living the Dream has finally been released.
Living the Dreams comes several years after their previous release World on Fire. Slash has employed that album’s producer, Michael ‘Elvis’ Baskette for this latest release and recorded it at a his own Snakepit Studios. The results are impressive, with an album that is more diverse and with a snappier approach to song structures.
Kicking off with the initially muffled riff of ‘The Call of the Wild’, the band unit hammers the song into shape with Kennedy delivering some fantastic vocal skills within the first minute. A bit of half time dynamics, a spot of nifty guitar soloing from Slash with themed patterns and a strong sense of melody make this a winning opening track, setting the tone for the album. The next track, ‘Serve You Right’, apparently inspired by a picture of a self-pleasuring nun in Snakepit Studios, has a full sonic spectrum in use as it works itself into a groove, pardon the pun. Some cowbell from drummer Brent Fitz, a walking riff bolstered by rhythm guitarist Frank Sidoris, a key change, another fluid solo and vocals in unison with guitar at the outro shows off some great arranging skills.
The percussive ‘My Antidote’ continues the signature Gunners feel from Slash who weaves in and out of vocal driven melody lines with ease. The solo is a succinct and tightly executed scorcher. The strength of the band working as a unit is heard in the fourth track ‘Mind Your Manners’ which was reportedly the first thing the band played when rehearsals for this album commenced. Given that many songs stemmed from capturing ideas during prior tour sound checks and catching moments when inspiration struck, to still hammer out a ripping track from rehearsals shows that spontaneity is one of the great successes of the material on this album.
Mid album track ‘Lost Inside the Girl’ is interesting, starting out with a power ballad feel but working as a slow burner. The pace quickens with the funk rock, 70s feel of ‘Read Between the Lines’. It is an album highlight for arranging and dynamics as it builds from open strings ringing out during the verse to a thumping chorus.
The proper power ballad on the album is ‘The One You Loved is Gone’ with a nice mix of arpeggiated electric guitar and acoustic guitar embellishments. The song is a great demonstration of Kennedy’s vocal power and ability to hit notes perfectly. The two guitar solos are probable phones in the air moment for live shows which will no doubt hit Australia again soon.
‘Slow Grind’ is a blues rocker with a power chorus which works well to introduce Slash’s expressive, guitar soloing. The album’s first single, ‘Driving Rain’ is as you’d expect – a high octane, stomping, rocking track with harmonised vocals, doubled guitar parts and a big chorus. It may be formulaic but it works as intended with a catchy riff and some slower yet exciting guitar soloing from Slash. Even the shorter ‘Sugar Cane’, which flies by in a swift three minutes, has a few more tasty blues and country guitar licks snuck into Slash’s fiesty solo.
The last track kicks off with a simple but effective muted guitar figure. Older music fans might recognise David Gilmour’s ‘Run Like Hell’ or even Survivor’s ‘Eye of the Tiger’ styles in there but for most listeners it just works to introduce a solid album closer. The solo has more quick vibrato as it climbs to higher notes to fall back down with a hint of AC/DC’s soloing approach. Vocals and backing vocals all help the chorus against big, open chord changes that create a full sound.
The strength of this latest album is such that as a feature for a coming tour, it won’t be a bad thing. Hats off to Slash, as the sarcastically titled Living the Dream album is well worth taking the time to appreciate.
- The Call of the Wild
- Serve You Right
- My Antidote
- Mind Your Manners
- Lost Inside the Girl
- Read Between the Lines
- Slow Grind
- The One You Loved in Gone
- Driving Rain
- Sugar Cane
- The Great Pretender
- Boulevard of Broken Hearts