Five years separate Live On and its successor, The Place You're In, and the time allowed Kenny Wayne Shepherd to grow as both an artist and as an individual. He's not only writing the majority of his material, he's singing most of it as well. His guitar playing has become more nuanced, and he's moved squarely into the world of album rock from his blues-rock background. Even the cover and publicity photos reflect the difference, showing a darker, decidedly grown-up Kenny Wayne Shepherd. In addition, the producer/mixing team of Jerry Harrison and Tom Lord-Alge (who did both Live On and Trouble Is) has been replaced by Marti Frederiksen and Andy Wallace, who give the album a more muscular sound. This album is tailor-made for rock radio with its big guitar sounds and recycled classic rock riffs, and Shepherd sounds very comfortable in this setting. The lyrics are a bit weak in places, but most of the songs have solid hooks and fine guitar solos. There are some very nice touches throughout the album, like the backward guitar and restrained solo that appear on "Let Go" (which recalls some of Steve Winwood's work) or the gospel backing vocals and excellent outro of "Hey, What Do You Say." "Ain't Selling Out" is a bit of a misstep: a forceful chugging rocker over a monotonous hook, and the Kid Rock guest shot ("Spank") may sell an extra copy or two, but the song is pretty unremarkable. Overall, The Place You're In is a solid album that shows Shepherd continuing to grow as an artist, but whether he can develop a more personal voice remains to be seen.
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AllMusic Review by Sean Westergaard
feat: Kid Rock
feat: Noah Hunt
feat: Noah Hunt