Artist: Kenny George Band
Album: Borrowed Trouble
Release Date: 4.28.2017
Hailing from Aiken, SC, the Kenny George Band plays mostly vintage country rock . This, their third album, should thrust them into the national spotlight. Inspired by the early Americana movement, called alt-country at the time, band leader Kenny George was drawn to Whiskeytown and Wilco and later to the iconic country outlaws Haggard, Jones, Kristofferson, etc. (you know the names). Along the way he also picked up on the Southern California sounds of the Eagles, Jackson Brown and J.D. Souther. With that foundation, the Kenny George Band has played 250 shows in the South and Midwest over the past two years.
A quintet with George on lead and rhythm guitar, Scott Rankin on rhythm guitar, Center Ely on pedal and lap steel, with Bucky Brown on drums and Brooks Andrews on bass. Both Rankin and Brown support George’s lead vocals, giving many of the songs a rather robust three-part harmony.
Jangling and resounding guitars color their sound from the outset on “Love’s Kinda Lonely.” Ely’s pedal steel is prominent throughout as the band creates tons of catchy hooks and breezy melodies. Apparently much of album is imbued with the considerable time spent on the road—in a way, it’s a view of life from the window of a van. Like a road trip, the music dips, sways, swerves, always under the control of a steady driver. These guys definitely had a game plan. The playing is solid but never explodes or careens out of control, almost as if Ely’s pedal steel is the steady glue holding it all together.
The album’s centerpiece tune, “Falling Down” comes complete with a rather somber instrumental intro before gliding into a memorable melody. They sound ornery and gritty on “A Man That’s Never Gone.” “Blisters and Bones” is straight-ahead country and “Picket Fences” is a softer country accented by guest Taylor Swan’s banjo. “Cigarettes and Strange” paints some vivid images of the road life of a rock and roll band while the closer, “Empty Side Of Leaving” is an acoustic lament of the weary side of that same life.
This is an emerging band that has earned it the hard way. “Our goal has always been to connect with our audiences,” says George. “Our music is honest and organic, and we deliberately avoid pretense. We may seem like a ragtag bunch, but there’s a passion, purpose and sincerity that underscores everything we do, and hopefully that’s apparent even the first time you hear us play.” While they are not breaking new ground—in fact they almost sound retro—they do have solid songs and a determined approach.