Kenny Dubman – Music News

Any red-blooded music fan knows that an album can change your life. When the right record hits you at the right time, there is an explosion of new thoughts and revelations. The colors are brighter and the target appears clearer. In a way, musicians are even more attuned to this phenomenon than most.

New Jersey singer/guitarist Kenny Dubman had left the main stage. The musician group Prophet had a string of critically acclaimed albums in the 1980s touting that expansive arena rock sound. But the scenes continue, and by the beginning of the next decade, rock music had undergone a landslide. The band released their last album Recycled in 1991 and since then Dubman has largely stepped out of the spotlight. Fast forward to 2013 and after difficult years and a series of personal hardships, Dubman found a lifeline: The Whippoorwill of Blackberry Smoke. Something in the band’s rock’n’roll revival sound brought something back to life in him and by Independence Day 2016, Dubman will be back with his first solo album Reckless Abandon.

This year, Dubman dives into that pit again to release Conflicted, a southern-tinged slice of classic rock ‘n’ roll, supported by some heavy-hitting guest appearances. The album thematically explores the idea that everyone struggles with difficult decisions and personal divides that make easy definitions or categorizations impossible. In many ways, acknowledging this contradictory nature in all of us would cure some of the extremely dualistic behaviors that have gripped our society in recent years.

The first single ‘Old Dog’, which will be released this Friday, serves as the opener of the album. At an appropriate moment, Dubman is joined on the track by Blackberry Smoke frontman Charlie Starr. Driving four-on-the-floor and spinning motor guitars propel this straightforward rocker. The organ and guitar take turns tearing up solos while the rhythm section leaves a lot of open space for the theatre.

‘Toeing the Line’ takes a step back from the electrified jams to kick back in an acoustically guided slow burner. Dubman stretches his vocal cords to deliver this sardonic sermon. He borrows a guitar lick from the mighty Jimmy Page, echoing his cycling lead in Zeppelin’s ‘Ten Years Gone’. Clever guitar master Zakk Wylde (Ozzy Osbourne, Black Label Society, Zakk Sabbath) lends his talents to “Cruelest of Them All,” a humble mid-tempo tune built to meet Wylde’s mesmerizing side acrobatics. The guitar crank hands out a blazing solo as it has consistently done on command for the past 30+ years. Fast boogie rocker ‘Pitiful Fool’ is a throwback to Dubman’s 80s metal past. To this he adds his new style of Southern rock vocal delivery, making for an interesting hybrid. This double juggernaut is the late album shot in the arm.

Dubman’s solo career shows that inspiration can come just as easily from the next generation as from the previous one. There may be the feeling that “they did better in the past and the newcomers don’t get it”. But staying fresh is about listening to what’s going on around you and never shutting yourself down. Dubman has found new life with this embrace of a different style of rock.

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