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Local band's first
outing a soulful slice
of blues rock

Kings Highway - Kings Highway
(Hunter's Records)
3 stars (out of 5 stars)
Reviewed: Aug. 27, 2010
Kings Highway

Review by Tony Bonyata

Local blues-rock quartet Kings Highway have just released their self- titled, full-length effort, and for fans of high-energy, groove- centric Chicago-styled blues this should come as a welcome offering.

The band is fronted by the deep growl of Cedric Square, and what the vocalist may lack in range, he certainly makes up for with a delivery soaked in soul and passion, not unlike a youthful Joe Cocker minus a bit of the rasp. The band's rhythm section (featuring drummer Tommy Purcell and bassist Dan White) keeps things taut and on-track, while also exuding just an edge of danger. The group's secret weapon, guitarist Michael Schultz, turns in smoking leads and barn-burning solos that propel many of these numbers from the back of a Southside whiskey joint to the forefront of a blues-rock arena. Songs such as the raucous "Down In Your Soul" and "Your Body" finds Square's soulful moans melding perfectly with Schultz' spirited rhythm and lead guitar that taps into the Texas roadhouse vibe of the late, great Stevie Ray Vaughan.

The album isn't without its minor faults, however, as witnessed on the run-of-the-mill blues chug of "500," as well as the rather plodding rhythm that fails to build steam through the album's lengthiest track, "Discrete." Thankfully, though, these moments are fleeting and long forgotten with the rocking numbers "Scream My Name," "Freedom Train" and "Runnin'," the latter two also featuring some brilliant match-to- gasoline guitar solos by Speed X and former Queensryche guitarist Mike Stone. The boogie-chillin' groove of "Ain't Got The Time" also works wonders as Square turns in a deep, sensual vocal delivery in the style of soul & blues great Bobby "Blue" Bland, followed by Schultz unleashing a delicously wicked and reckless electric slide solo [don't tell me this cat hasn't been down to The Crossroads].

It's often tough to stand out of the crowd when specializing in Chicago-flavored blues, but Kings Highway injects just enough soul, along with a touch of revved-up boogie-rock to loom head-and-shoulders above many of their regional peers.

For more info on Kings Highway or to order their self-titled CD go to:

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