Tuesday, May 10, 2016

CD: Kev Wright - Journey Road

Kev Wright - Journey Road

The solo release by former Righteous Hillbillies guitar- slinger Kev Wright is a brilliant artistic offering not merely for what it contains, but for what is missing. The guitar-shredding virtuosity which Kev Wright fans have come to expect from his previous work with RH, both on their albums and blistering live performances, is for the most part absent on this album, taking a back seat to piano, mandolin, and harmonica. Those who find themselves disappointed in this will also find themselves missing the point. Kev is the artist’s artist, and the songwriter’s songwriter, and both of the above are the types who refuse to be pigeonholed or allow themselves to be forced into meeting expectations.

On Journey Road, Wright indeed does just that, which is to take us on a journey through the heart and soul and blood and guts of his heart, a heart that is as world-wearied as it is golden, and though both sides of this battle-scarred veteran’s blood-pumper shine brilliantly on the record, in the end, it is the heart of gold which prevails. The musicianship from all the players on Kev’s most excellent and righteous journey is top notch, but the real star on Journey Road is the song, and Wright’s straight-from-the-hip poetic lyrics and storytelling. If it is gratuitous guitar solos you are after, put on some Eddie Van Halen. If you are looking for masterfully-penned tunes that stand up there with the best of Jim Croce, Gordon Lightfoot, and John Prine, then you will do as I have, and spin this one again and again, and find these wonderful songs helplessly stuck in your head.

From the country-rockin’ “Someone Else” to the tear-inducing and heart-warming “Ol Black Dog” to the spiritual “I’ve Been To the Mountain” to the dark and disturbing “Hey Mr. Barczy,” Kev Wright brings us along on his epic journey, a journey that takes us from good times to bad times and back again, through blue-collar days and love-sick nights, with pit stops in a prison cell or two, sometimes inside looking out, other times outside looking in, but always being brutally honest with the subject matter.
Journey Road is as much an album about life, the good, the bad, and the ugly, as you will ever get. This introspective work is overflowing with sincerity and grit and passion. Kev Wright is the last of a breed, a true musical gypsy and hopeless romantic at heart, who through the decades has lived through every musical note that paints the landscape of ups and downs and light and darkness on this album. And though the man has found a sense of inner peace and solidity within his loving family, he is not the type to ever stop questioning things and to take a hard and truthful look at life’s injustices and uncertainties.

Journey Road’s 16 songs run the gamut of rustic and sincere Americana, folk, singer-songwriter, and country. If Wright never cranks out another record, there is more than enough here to showcase his genius. But as someone who has been honored with getting a sneak peek at a plethora of songs from the man’s catalog, I can assure you that this slab of goodness is only the beginning of the lifetime of stories and tales that Kev Wright is ready and willing to share with a weary world, and straight from his time-tested heart of beautiful gold. 
 
 
Review by Pete Berwick for 
Country Music News International



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