Myles Kennedy/Year of the Tiger

And all of the Myles Kennedy junkies said "Amen."

Even a casual fan of the unbelievably talented, yet criminally underrated, singer and guitar player knows the myth of the Myles Kennedy solo album is the unicorn we always hoped for, but wondered if we'd ever see.

Don't get it twisted: Most of us are happy to rock along with Slash ft. Myles Kennedy and the Conspirators, and to bask in the glory of Alter Bridge. However the never ending tour cycles of those bands had left some of us channeling Chris Crocker and dramatically screaming,"Leave Myles alone!" since about 2012.

Just me? Was that just me? Okay.

Myles even made an entire solo record and didn't even release it. But if he had, we may have never been given the gift of Year of the Tiger.

It's pretty vital to know the story behind this album before you dive in: Kennedy's family followed Christian Science, which forbids doctors, and relies on prayer and faith to heal. His father died of a very treatable ailment when Myles was only four years old.

Needless to say, YOTT is not a light listen. But it's beautiful and it's worth it. Take this album in as if you're reading a novel or watching a movie. You are going on a journey...feeling the sadness, frustration, longing, and ultimately, the determination to keep going.

The centerpiece of this whole thing is Kennedy's versatile and expressive voice. What a revelation, right? But, seriously, you're cheating yourself if you don't listen closely and appreciate the emotion behind every word.

The melodic and memorable title track sets sets the scene. Prominent acoustic guitar and stand-up bass give us clues that, musically, this is nothing we've heard from Myles before:

Whether it's the bluesy "Blind Faith," the rockabilly "Devil on the Wall," or the melancholy country of "Haunted By Design," the songs on Year of the Tiger are a fresh sound from Kennedy.

The only true echoes I hear from past projects are the dark and epic "The Great Beyond," which has a very AB III vibe, while one of my favorite tracks, "Turning Stones," brings to mind Mayfield Four for me.

"Ghost of Shangri-La" is a haunting and beautiful tune, told from the perspective of Kennedy's mother, when she decided to move the family from their home and start over after his father's death. You can really picture dark hallways, and the sad emptiness of a house, haunted by memories.

For those who manage to make it two-thirds of the way through Year of the Tiger without ugly-crying, "Nothing But a Name" will get you. The lyrics are raw and honest. Kennedy questions his late father, "Your conviction, your belief, how could you choose that over me...goddamn I miss you now."

The restrained "Love Can Only Heal" features a signature Myles guitar solo, as the album begins to wind down. Those notes convey just as much as the lyrics.

Year of the Tiger is dark, but paced artfully. Tunes like the sweet "Mother," the gorgeous "Songbird," and the hopeful closing track, "One Fine Day" lean heavily on acoustic guitar and heartfelt melodies. These songs provide some much-needed warm rays of sunshine between the intensity.

I'll be honest, it took me a few listens to fall in love with Year of the Tiger. I have found most of my favorite albums, the ones that end up meaning something to me, the ones I go back to years later, are the albums that have required some time to appreciate.

Those repeated listens bring attention to the little moments you'll miss if you listen casually: the moaning guitar weaving just under the surface of "Blind Faith," Myles' harmonies with his own voice on "Nothing But a Name," the ominous echo after the line "watch you break" in "Love Can Only Heal," and the chill-inducing moment when he turns up the vocal drama (you know, goes full-Myles?) for the bridge of 'Turning Stones."

I find something new to love, something new to feel, each time I listen to Year of the Tiger. I hope this beautiful piece of work finds its way to a new audience. Even if Kennedy's other projects haven't been your cup of tea, this one is a very different flavor, and deserves a chance.

If you want to really nerd out Kennedy-style with me, these podcasts are worth your time:

Myles on No Prize From God: an incredibly interesting discussion with Myles about his journey with belief and spirituality, and how his father's death shaped his outlook on life.

Myles on The Jasta Show: I'm obviously hashtag-obsessed with MK, but also with Jamey Jasta, so this episode was a super fun listen!

Myles on Harddrive DL: Great interview, featuring an lol-worthy story about recording YOTT. It's Myles in full adorkable mode and I love it.

As always, thanks for reading, peeps! Let me know what you think!

-Mrs. W.