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Kenny George Band Living on Borrowed Trouble

Kenny George Band Living on Borrowed Trouble

17343032_10154819692204550_4383755910891649596_n“We’ve been doing 180 gigs a year for some time now. We’re pretty use to it,” Kenny George told American Songwriter, and all that playing time is evident on their first full length release, Borrowed Trouble. With a sound that’s somewhere between Son Volt, minus the grunge guitar, and Jolene, minus the southern gothic undertones, Kenny George Band strikes the perfect Americana balance of twang, strum, and rhythm. Tight musicianship, that produces an uncannily loose and free sound that is an obvious byproduct of all the gigs played, is this band’s bread and butter, and what a sweet sound it is in your ear buds and over your stereo.

Not since Whiskeytown, and the aforementioned Jolene, has a Carolina act had such an expansive and wide-ranging appeal to their Americana-laced sound. The songs on Borrowed Trouble address the age old themes of everyday struggles, the open highway, and a “little lovin’ on the phone” as Kenny George sings about on the country pop leaning “Great Unknown.” Yep. Even pop-country, albeit pop country done right, is present here on Borrowed Trouble. “Great Unknown” is a fun little jaunt that should appeal to just about everyone. It’s songs like “Falling Down,” with its more introspective Willie Nelson-like rhythms and lyrics, that really shine here. “Falling Down” is a great piece of songwriting that will propel KGB to widespread acclaim and stardom. Its intertwining guitar lines form a beautiful aural helping of that sweet sound mentioned above.

On the flipside, tempo wise, standout tracks like “Blisters and Bones” are harder rocking tracks that demonstrate Kenny George’s formidable southern rock songwriting chops. This track reminds me most of the type of faster and slightly harder songs Jolene were known for, but this track is all Kenny George. The use of the pedal steel in “Blisters and Bones” is nothing short of brilliant as it actually adds to the rocking sound of the track, rather than amping up the twang. I haven’t heard this good use of pedal steel in this way since Jolene did it, and it’s just as great sounding here as it was there almost twenty years ago when I first heard it. “Blisters and Bone” is the album’s rock track standout. It got stuck on repeat play on my car stereo, and it will on yours as well.

The gospel organ that opens “Cigarettes and Strange” leads into some of the album’s best rock guitar soloing. It’s of the type that defies categorization as straightforward southern rock or even alt-country rock. It’s some kind of genre blend that is rarely pulled off this well in one song. The same goes for the album’s opening track “Lovin’s Kinda Lonely.”

Borrowed Trouble isn’t all harder Americana/alt-country rock though. Mid-tempo rockers like “Stepping Stones” drive the album and solidify Kenny George’s reputation as a singularly talented songwriter. Country rhythm based “Picket Fences” explores complex themes along with its deceptively complex guitar work. The quiet acoustic guitar of closing track “Empty Side of Leaving” rounds out the album by revisiting the introspection that shone on “Picket Fences” and “Falling Down.”

Borrowed Trouble is the type of major full length debut that few bands are capable of producing. It might have been a long time coming, as KGB have been together since 2007, but the wait was worth it for the listener. Kenny George Band’s Borrowed Time is a testament to a band that is ready for prime time, and should dominate its airtime with authority.

Listen to Borrowed Trouble below! Find out where they’re playing next right here.

Album cover via Kenny George Band’s Facebook

Carolina's based writer/journalist Andy Frisk love music, and writing, and when he gets to intermingle the two he feels most alive. Covering concerts and albums by both local and national acts, Andy strives to make the world a better place and prove Gen X really can still save the world.


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