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Ty Tabor – ‘Shades’

RatPak Records
Bob Mould, Jerry Cantrell, Steven Wilson
Release Date
RatPak Records
Alternative/Hard/Progressive Rock

Ty Tabor is the frontman and guitarist for King’s X, themselves largely inactive for over a decade, but one of those bands who were credited as being there at the beginnings of Grunge. And Prog Metal, And Alt Rock. They seemed destined to always almost hit the big time, but somehow the timing or circumstance never worked out. This never stopped them having a devoted fanbase, and a strong reputation as excellent live performers, it just kept them somewhat below the mass-audience radar. Meanwhile Ty has garnered a reputation as “the guitarist’s guitarist”, and has released a slew of solo albums that have consistently been loved by those who know, but the mainstream of Rock and Rock Radio still hasn’t really noticed. Will his latest creation “Shades” attract wider acknowledgement?

I will grant you that a first listen through this record may not start a fire under your ass, there’s a deliberate move away from “riff first” writing and structure; here melody and flow are the stars of the show and take a little longer to get under your skin. By and large it is well worth the process, with only a couple of tracks still failing to impress with repeat listens (that’s entirely personal; you might well fall for them first). The guitar work you’ll be expecting is all there present and correct, the playing is phenomenal and seemingly effortless. In keeping with the album’s more mature style, it isn’t in your face all the time, so when the solos arrive they feel fresher and more exhilarating as a consequence.

One major surprise is the track “Sister Genocide”; I was absolutely convinced my media player had jumped forward to the new Porcupine Tree album by mistake, the delivery and tone of the vocal line, the playing and even the choices of guitar sounds are just SO Steven Wilson it’s uncanny. In album order the following track “Best Day in a While” brings the emotional peak of the album with a heartfelt reminiscence of Ty’s recently deceased father; it’s a proper “lump in the throat” moment.

Displaying more overt melody and Pop-oriented song writing than his previous works, it is still unlikely that there’ll be a hit single from this album, it will appeal to existing fans, and those of similar vintage(!). This feels charmingly anachronistic, it’s an album that screams 1990’s. It’s no worse for it, and there’s a lot of you reading Metal Digest who’ll thoroughly enjoy it.

"A strong collection of mature alt rock to make you feel grown up"

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