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last of a dying breedReleased: 2012

Ask people what they know about Lynyrd Skynyrd most people will answer with either ‘who?’ or ‘those guys that did Free Bird and Sweet Home Alabama?’ The new album from the band will prove there’s a whole lot more to them than that.

As the album title suggests, there aren’t many bands like Skynyrd around anymore, but the popular myth that this band is only for rednecks and old blokes with receding hair is one that needs reassessing.

Taken in its own right, this album is a frankly astonishing lesson in how to write a soundtrack to the summer. Many of these tunes feel like they were written for road trips and back garden bbqs. The opening southern groove of the title track is one of the catchiest songs written this year, and the pummelling guitar riffs featured on Homegrown will have you winding the windows down and singing at passers-by on your drive to the beach.

Perhaps the most enthralling aspect of this album is just how consistent it is. Not a bad song in sight, and stumbling upon a cliché only occasionally, it is clear these seasoned veterans have honed the art of songwriting to its finest.

Singer Johnny Van Zant ‘s vocals are a clear highlight of the album, and indeed the band itself. Dripping with rich, whiskey soaked charm, and able to carry the soaring powerhouse choruses the band are so good at delivering, you can tell he loves every minute of being part of this band. Of course, for a band with such iconic tracks as Free Bird in their cannon, the solos are nothing short of breathtaking. Peter Keys’ piano solo on Do It Up Right oozes the blues and the guitar solos on Poor Man’s Dream will have you air-guitaring along with gusto.

For a band with such a heritage as Lynyrd Skynyrd, songs like Mississippi Blood work a treat. Wearing their deep south roots very much on their sleeves, but making it accessible to all ages with the kind of chorus to rival most anthems released by some of today’s young pretenders, the song keep both the purists and the newcomers happy. Indeed this is really the story of the album as a whole: a fantastic collection of rock songs in its own right, but also a modern record that celebrates the band’s past for the existing fans. With an album like this it’s clear why the band draw three generations of fans at their live shows.

★★★★★

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