Solo albums aren’t uncommon, and neither is the urge to compare them to the artist’s original band. So Slash’s album should, understandably, have listeners eagerly comparing it to Guns ’n’ Roses material. ‘Living The Dream’ featuring Myles Kennedy & The Conspirators does just that, but somehow that fact is almost surprising. What’s also surprising is him releasing a solo album so soon after his reunion with GNR. At a time where he is supposedly stabilising the relationship between himself, Axl Rose and Duff McKagan, this record’s timing seems slightly unnerving.
Slash’s past and influences come barrelling through ‘Living The Dream’. In ‘Serve You Right’, he shows his affection for AC/DC– everything about it screams of the ‘Back In Black’ album. Interestingly, it’s Kennedy that injects Guns’n Roses. His and Axl’s vocals are almost interchangeable, and the ‘oh oh oh’s could easily have come from ‘Sweet Child O’ Mine’. The lyrics tell of seducing a nun, which is definitely not unknown territory, if a little crude.
By ‘My Antidote’, you’re expecting the record to blow your mind. There isn’t anything wrong with the music, it certainly rocks harder than some recent rock releases. But something seems off. Something is missing. Perhaps it is the blinding inability to fully accept Slash as a solo artist instead of solely a band member, leading to an expectation for this record to be the second coming of ‘Appetite For Destruction’. Whatever it is, it overshadows this release, giving the impression that the songs are limited by the artist’s own history.
This is the fourth record Myles Kennedy & The Conspirators have done with Slash, and there is obvious chemistry between them; for all intents and purposes, they are a band. This is never truer than in ‘Mind Your Manners’. Here, Kennedy’s vocals are fluid, satisfyingly blending with the surrounding production. However, the lyrics harbour angst – “Times change, I don’t need you anymore” – which is contradictory of Kennedy’s smooth voice.
The soppiness that is dotted throughout the record also seems strange. ‘Lost Inside The Girl’, with its hint of ‘Welcome To The Jungle’, has lovey-dovey lyrics that just don’t seem compatible with Slash’s persona: “When I close my eyes I’m lost to find the words/ Love revealed she’s a diamond, she’s a pearl”. This happens again with ‘Sugar Cane’. This drum-driven track has the recipe for an absolute stonker, but again the dodgy ingredient is the soppiness that doesn’t suit. Kennedy describes a girl as being “sweet as sugar cane”. This is something you’d expect from the Goo Goo Dolls perhaps, not a lineup of some of the industry’s finest rocking talent.
The closing tracks rekindle an old flame once again. In ‘The Great Pretender’, there is an intricacy and lyricism to Slash’s guitar that seems nostalgic of his GNR endeavours. ‘Boulevard of Broken Hearts’ basically serves as another nod to ‘Welcome To The Jungle’. It’s almost as though Slash wants us to think this should be a GNR record.
‘Living The Dream’ is a funny record to place. Every song is fantastic and can be turned up to full volume. But whilst this is true, the album also seems to have been made solely as a love-letter to Guns’n Roses, maybe even as a truce. Musically, it is outstanding. But there are far more layers to it that we might not ever uncover.