Slash Ft. Myles Kennedy And The Conspirators — 4 (Gibson Records)
Given his ‘solo’ band’s rambling name there’s never much room on a Slash sleeve for a lengthy album title.
4 saves space but could it save rock?
If the UK’s blossoming NWOCR scene provides plenty of evidence that exciting new talent is making its presence felt then the genre still needs a truly global figurehead.
A ubiquitous personality capable of grabbing mainstream attention and garnering celebrity endorsement.
A big name with an even bigger back catalogue who’s been there, done that and sold a zillion tour shirts.
Step forward – or should that be step 4ward — Slash.
The ultimate cool cat in the hat might have enjoyed the glitz and glamour of a long-awaited Guns N Roses comeback.
And there’s no doubt that hooking up with old buddy Axl Rose reinstated Slash as rock and roll’s ultimate six stringer.
But in the absence of any new material coming out of the Gunners camp there’s an overriding sense that musically, at least, this is where it’s at for the kid they called Saul.
4 is fast, furious and a whole lot of fun.
And it answers a timely SOS call from floundering rock fans fearing their favourite music is sinking fast.
4 is a firm 10
Across all five solo albums Slash has successfully fused a glittering past with one eye on the future.
2010’s groundbreaking self-titled collab fest bridged the gap between on-brand arena behemoth and keenly ambitious innovator.
And all four records under the Myles Kennedy/Conspirators name have managed to push the boundaries without pushing too far.
4 — the fourth — is another classy case in point.
Lapsed Slash fans think they want to hear Paradise City, Welcome To The Jungle and November Rain on repeat.
They’ve been conditioned to imagine the main man rooted in the late 80s and early 90s and often reined in as the frequently reluctant foil for Rose’s trademark squawk.
But those who’ve followed the 56-year-old’s journey more closely — through the Snakepit, Velvet Revolver and ‘solo’ years — have come to demand and expect much more.
And, more often than not, Slash has delivered.
Alongside the utterly dependable Kennedy he’s found fresh inspiration on 4.
Actions Speak Louder Than Words (how many times must Slash have muttered that over the years) is rich in T-Rex styled glam rock excess.
Spirit Love leans on a subtle eastern-flavoured riff and the dreamy Deep Purple-esque rocker is a sumptuous slow burner.
Singles The River Is Rising, Fill My World and Call Off The Dogs might have been the more astute commercial picks.
But 4’s best moments lie elsewhere as The Path Less Followed and set closer Fall Back To Earth, in particular, highlight the combined strength of the Slash/Kennedy axis.
Dave Cobb is right man 4 the job
Enjoy 4 in its entirety and producer Dave Cobb’s magic touch is writ large across a record that rarely disappoints.
Slash uprooted his band and crew to Nashville — at the height of the pandemic — for a reason.
And crafting 4 alongside Cobb (Chris Stapleton, John Prine, Jason Isbell, Brandi Carlile) proved a supremely smart move.
The name on so many of country music’s most affecting releases captures Slash’s purposeful touch and trademark tone to a tee.
Neither heavy handed nor lazily indifferent, Cobb’s stamped his mark on a pivotal rock record without trampling all over the legacy of a true guitar legend.
Of course, producing Slash can’t be easy.
And it takes a brave man to take on a project where nothing less than perfection will do.
But Cobb — who elevated Rival Sons to the next level on Feral Roots and helmed Europe’s outstanding Walk The Earth — is a canny operator who’s not afraid to step out from his comfort zone.
He’s a cool customer and a proven safe pair of hands.
Just check out the stack of Grammys jostling for position in his Tennessee home.
Cobb’s the Coke to (pre-sobriety) Slash’s JD.
And 4’s a refreshing reminder that a rock record done right is a rare treat indeed.