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Album Review : JIM KIRKPATRICK – ‘DEAD MAN WALKING’

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Review by Paul Sabin for MPM

The ever busy, Jim Kirkpatrick’s follow up to his critically acclaimed 2020 album, `Ballad Of A Prodigal Son’, sees him flex his musical muscles, drawing on his wealth of experience over the years with FM, Bernie Marsden and Rhinos Revenge to name just a few.

As a result, the tracks contained within don’t just nestle nicely in one single pigeonholed genre but transcend a variety of styles from rock, folk, blues, country and even a little gospel.

`Promised Land’ starts things rolling and brings with it a sound that conjures up images of chain gangs or cotton pickers in days gone by in the deep south singing as they work in the hot southern sun. This is where Kirkpatrick visits gospel harmonies and lush harmonica.

The Title track is up next and what a track it is! Think Bon Jovi’s `Wanted Dead Or Alive’ but with more attitude and oodles of sassy guitar breaks. The track was co-written by Bernie Marsden and sees guests Leon Cave on drums, Chris Cliff on bass and FM’s Jem Davis on keys adding to the might of this stunning song.

`Razors Edge’ takes a heavy slow driving rock route. Kirkpatrick proves here that he may be a superb guitarist but is also a very strong vocalist! `Life On The Run’ brings the speed up with an addictive riff that gets under your skin and drips with melodies whilst retaining a hard edge.

The gentler, `The Journey Home’ blends soulful vocals with sweet bluesy guitars and a warbling Hammond. When the track get going, its depth and intricity come out. This certainly is one of many high points found on this album. `Union Train’ takes us back out west as wailing harmonicas, fiddles and country rock vibes set the scene. There’s some sweet slide guitar from Kirkpatrick to be found here. Rhino Edwards also adds his bass might to this track.

`Road Of Bones’ has that heavy blues feel that Joe Bonamassa is so famous for. This song could in fact be the (Prodigal) son of Alannah Myles `Black Velvet’ as it’s a real spine tingler of a track that oozes emotion and soul from every pore! `Heaven Above’ co written with Scott Ralph has Toto’s percussion elements, a riff that Aerosmith could relate to and yet more delicious riffery from the man himself. Choral vocals carve themselves a rocky groove on his sublime track.

`Hold On’ is one of those songs that just sounds like the whole band were having a blast when it was recorded. Its got a feel of classic Free to it which is then liberally sprinkled with Kirkpatrick magic. Can anything be any better than that?

The album closes in a very special way. Surprisingly it’s a cover song but Jim Kirkpatrick doesn’t take the easy path. Here we have a very different rendition of Rory Gallagher’s `I Fall Apart’. It is nothing short of epic! Sparkly strat tones give way to a Led Zep esque riff that is backed with a full orchestral score as this monster thunders its way to the end.

Jim Kirkpatrick’s work is always of a high standard whether he is playing to an unsuspecting folk audience in the suburbs of Torquay (yes I remember that Jim!!) or out on the road with FM but this album has seen him raise the bar far higher than ever before.

Every track has been expertly crafted, produced and performed keeping the music sparkling and the listener hooked in. `I Fall Apart’ is quite simply a masterpiece and left me utterly spellbound after enjoying the other tracks on an already stellar album.

If you’ve never heard of Jim Kirkpatrick or haven’t seen him live please do so as he really is one of the UKs greatest unsung guitar heroes!

10/10

Available on all digital platforms:

Spotify: https://open.spotify.com/album/4e9oGJ…

Apple Music: https://music.apple.com/gb/album/unio…

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