Potted trivia out of the way first… Kentucky Headhunters are a blues/country rock band and are, indeed, from Kentucky. Two of the band’s members are related to Black Stone Cherry’s drummer John Fred (his dad and his uncle). Their first UK gig was at Rambling Man festival this past summer, and the band has been going for an incredible 48 years.
On Safari came out in early November and, sadly due to what an incredible year this has been for good releases, just slipped under our radar at the time. I’m about to redress that and “tl;dr” if you like your rock with a hillbilly tinge then put this one on the Christmas list. If you’ve been good then Santa should bring you a copy.
Unlike their blood-related band, The Kentucky Headhunters aren’t a predominantly “get up and rock” kind of act. As befits their more mature standing, they go for the “chill out, hug the wife and sway” sound. That’s not to say they can’t up the tempo a little with the likes of “Deep South Blue Again” which rocks like the best of them, but what they excel at are numbers like “Lowdown Memphis Town Blues” which is velvet to the former’s grit.
They definitely emphasise the “blues” in blues rock, with that making up the lion’s share of the band’s sound. Generally slow and groovy, but escaping into soaring solos and singalong choruses which bring the rock side of things into the equation. Good ol’ rock’n’roll gets a look-in as well with “Jukebox Full of Blues” which just demands to be danced to – Jerry Lee Lewis would have been proud of this one – and it follows the style of the era as well, being an all-too-short 2:07 in length.
“God Loves a Rolling Stone” lets the band throw down some country sounds that would have a herd of cattle feeling homesick. Top track for me, though, is “Caught In A Dream” which blends all of these styles together perfectly. It’s a little bit of everything, just the perfect combination.
The Headhunters managed a few dates in the UK this year – Ross caught them in Glasgow. Here’s hoping for a return trip so we get another chance to hear this stuff live. With a 48 year history I’m sure they have some more kickers they can throw our way too!
On Safari is out now and you can grab it from Amazon.
Header image by Ash Newell