Slash leans into his box of Guns N' Roses tricks on 4th album with Myles Kennedy & The Conspirators

The fourth album from Slash feat. Myles Kennedy & The Conspirators sounds more like a band and less like the sum of the parts

Slash feat. Myles Kennedy & The Conspirators: 4 cover art
(Image: © Gibson Records/BMG)

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A word of advice: don’t listen to this album through laptop speakers, and for god’s sake don’t play it through your phone (or at least not the first time). These days that’s a less common prerequisite than you may think – even ‘proper rock records’ are now usually mixed with lo-fi, portable platforms in mind. Which is perfectly fine. Being a music fan isn’t always about spinning deluxe editions on high-spec equipment. 

That said, there’s something very appealing about 4’s old-school values. All rich, roomy tones, captured live in Nashville’s RCA Studios, it benefits from being listened to on a decent sound system or headphones. Lovingly analogue, hot-off-the-floor records are what 4’s producer Dave Cobb does, and it shows.

Where the previous two Slash Featuring Myles Kennedy & The Conspirators albums carried more Alter Bridge DNA (both produced by AB’s go-to guy ‘Elvis’ Baskette), 4 leans further into Slash’s box of Guns N’ Roses tricks. It doesn’t create the bright-eyed punch of its predecessors, but for live atmosphere Cobb’s approach pairs brilliantly with Appetite For Destruction-era dirt. 

It’s also arguably the first time a SMKTC album has really sounded like a band affair, as opposed to the Slash ’n’ Myles show backed by drummer Brent Fitz, bassist Todd Kerns and rhythm guitarist Frank Sidoris. On 4 all their parts are tangible, while Myles Kennedy’s vocals are less polished, a little lower in the mix; less precision-honed wailer, more rock star.

Indeed, everything on 4 is deeper, looser and grittier. River Is Rising sets a heavy, menacing vibe with an accelerated lead guitar bridge straight out of the Paradise City playbook. Whatever Gets You By has the rumbling bass and big, Bonham-y drums of Rival Sons’ Electric Man, while Spirit Love flits between electric sitar twangs and grungy, Alice In Chains verses.

Slivers of brightness gleam through Fill My World (built on a Sweet Child O’ Mine-style riff). Best of all, though, is Call Off The Dogs, an irresistible dirtbag of Guns-y nastiness, with Kennedy’s tenor soaring across it like a dove over a burning, bombed-out city. 

It all ends relatively solemnly, with the Bowie-esque Fall Back To Earth (technically a power ballad, although that’s a bit like saying technically an apple has as much sugar as a Mars Bar) leaving a disarmingly minor-key impression. 

So 4 is not an instant sugar fix, but nor is it hard listening. In some ways it’s like returning to in-person meetings after zillions of Zoom calls – a little edgier, perhaps, but… well, real.

Polly Glass
Deputy Editor, Classic Rock

Polly is deputy editor at Classic Rock magazine, where she writes and commissions regular pieces and longer reads (including new band coverage), and has interviewed rock's biggest and newest names. She also contributes to Louder, Prog and Metal Hammer and talks about songs on the 20 Minute Club podcast. Elsewhere she's had work published in The Musician, delicious. magazine and others, and written biographies for various album campaigns. In a previous life as a women's magazine junior she interviewed Tracey Emin and Lily James – and wangled Rival Sons into the arts pages. In her spare time she writes fiction and cooks.