Jim Kirkpatrick – Dead Man Walking (US One/Proper Distribution)

Looking to get gig fit for the summer festival season?

Keen to burn through some of those blues rock calories?

Well it’s not too late to bag yourself an exclusive Jim membership.

Muscling in on territory far removed from the heavy lifting of his melodic rock day job, the mercurial Mr Kirkpatrick sounds like a musician reborn.

This weighty body of work spans country, Southern rock and Americana.

And forget the treadmill of mediocrity: FM’s axe slinger comfortably achieves a personal best.

Crucially, a close group of Jim buddies ensure Dead Man Walking is an exercise in excellence from start to finish.

Bernie Marsden, the Status Quo rhythm section of John Rhino’ Edwards and Leon Cave — plus FM band mate Jem Davis — all get the heart rate pumping.

And time and time again Kirkpatrick proves himself as the pacemaker for British blues fusion.

Cliff Edge?

But before we get to the good stuff — and there’s plenty — let’s address the elephant in the room.

The soulful Journey Home sounds dangerously like Cliff Richard. Honestly.

And it sticks out like the proverbial sore thumb on an otherwise thunderously enjoyable romp through the genres.

The heavy groove underpinning Road Of Bones drives a blues rock tour de force.

And Heaven Above’s funky undertone isn’t too far removed from the mighty Aerosmith’s Walk This Way.

Kirkpatrick, meanwhile, does an oh so neat line in Southern rock as Union Train picks up the mid-set pace.

And then there’s that evocative cover of the great Rory Gallagher’s I Fall Apart.

Now those in thrall to the original might take umbrage at what gentleman Jim’s done here.

Because this brave take on a stone-cold classic stretches the boundaries and challenges the norm.

But true to form, Kirkpatrick’s bold decision to add an orchestral score is inspired. 

Jimmy nails genre-defying classic

Dead Man Walking might not be the most obvious move by a man famed for firing up FM’s AOR engine since 2008.

But it’s a canny change of direction for a guitarist not too far removed from the dextrous Duane Allman.

And when all’s said and done the rather disingenuous album title couldn’t be further from the truth.

You see this is Kirkpatrick enjoying a new lease of life.

Walking tall and standing proud.

Unafraid to plot an exciting new course and striding towards the future in style.

Dead Man Walking’s a devilishly good stab at besting the brilliant Ballad Of A Prodigal Son.

And if Kirkpatrick’s hardly the ‘new’ kid on the British blues block then he’s the die-hard disruptor the genre desperately needs.