In a little over half an hour, the Kenny George Band’s latest EP Silent Saint, gives listeners a full tour of many styles- blues, country, folk, rock – all delivered in a package of the band’s road-worn authenticity. The Aiken band is singer-songwriter-guitarist Kenny George, steel guitarist Center Ely, bassist Brooks Andrews, guitarist-vocalist Scott Rankin and drummer Dave Mercer and their sound lies somewhere between traditional country and its modern alt-country counterparts. The record itself is a group of songs re-built from songs recorded at Zac Brown’s Southern Ground Studios after the death of drummer Bucky Brown plus one new track with the band’s new drummer, Mercer.
First track “Treat Me This Way” is ultra- bluesy and balanced by George’s smooth vocals. “It’s a Fool” starts with wistful steel guitar and showcases some of George’s great early lyrics (“What didn’t God do when he made women like you/ How’d he expect men like me to survive” and the simple but effective “Baby/ it’s a fool/ who ever stops loving you”). Putting on “New Orleans” made me finally realize after years of listening to Kenny’s great vocals that he has a great connection to that other great Mr. George, Lowell of Little Feat. Southern and soulful, they both hit all the right spots. “Pocketful of Habits” is classic country with traditional crooning that show where the band’s true heart is. “Silent Saint” is the new track and it’s a devastating at times tribute to departed drummer Brown: “All those things we had left to do/ and miles of highways between the songs” and get your handkerchief ready. The last two tracks are more raw and acoustic and “25 Hours Yesterday” has a strong alt-country feel with great singing and heart-felt lyrics like “Is there a worse place to not face the truth?” and “She’s every song/ I’ve never heard”. Last track “2 More Songs About Heartbreak” is probably my favorite with it’s pure country vocals. So many great lyrical moments that could be appreciated by fans of many musical styles, (“Love feels like a test/ I’m gonna fail like all the rest”) and “Take me out of this capitol city/ with neon signs that don’t all spell her name”) all show the quiet dignity Kenny George bestows unon his songwriting.
The band has been creating a great fanbase with relentless gigging and the practice of playing all the time isn’t lost on their sound; they have got it together, both musically and stylistically. Self-described as “self-sustaining”, they are on the way up. Looking forward to seeing them this Saturday at St. Pat’s in Five Points and you should be, too.
Sean Knight is a native South Carolinian who has spent his life bouncing back and forth between SC and Texas, playing in bands you probably never heard of in both states and stinking up open-mic nights in the Low Country for many years. He plays, collects, listens to and probably spends too much of his life obsessing over music.