Before the listener even presses Play, it’s clear that Year Of The Tiger is a personal venture for hard rock maven Myles Kennedy. With its title dedicated to the Chinese zodiac of 1974 – the year that Myles would lose his father to illness – the frontman’s solo debut is a slice of acoustic Americana fuelled by Led Zeppelin III-like blues and lingering lamentations. Year Of The Tiger’s opening title track is unabashed in showing off the album’s folkish inclinations, beginning with a sole resonator guitar that quickly gives way to raspy vocals. The Great Beyond is a more grandiose affair, rife with wails that echo the late Chris Cornell, before the quicker Devil On The Wall packs the slick stringwork of a Chuck Berry cut. Ghost Of Shangri La enchants with high-flying verse melodies, setting up the steadily building, old-school rock’n’roll of Haunted By Design. If any entry in this cavalcade of country is going to win over fans of Myles’s heavy-hitting work with Slash and Alter Bridge, it’s definitely this midpoint highlight.
While the abrupt start to Mother and the climactic refrain of Nothing But A Name eagerly continue Year Of The Tiger’s more energetic tangent, the album’s final moments then see it return to its undeniably American style, ensured by the slow emotion of Love Can Only Heal. One Fine Day makes for a sombre yet apt closing suite, cementing Year Of The Tiger’s status as an extravaganza of US proto-rock that throws a plethora of 50s and 60s inspirations into its enormous cauldron. And while metal’s most purist fans may not be wholly enamoured with it, Myles Kennedy’s first solo offering is a masterful exercise in soulful beauty.