All Access Rating: A
|Zakk Wylde - Book Of |
Shadows II 2016
Foregoing the mighty roar of a typical Black Label Society or Ozzy Osbourne release, Wylde crafts a dog-eared, toned-down hymnal of introspective, bittersweet ballads with a soulful Southern-rock drawl reminiscent of the Allman Brothers on this, his beautifully rendered second solo album.
The assured work of a man once broken and lost and cautiously hoping beyond hope that he's completely healed, Book of Shadows II, due out on eOne Music, is deeply moving, with the lush, pastoral "Autumn Changes" and "Lay Me Down" and a bluesy "Tears of December" serving notice immediately that Wylde, for all his fortitude, is acutely aware of his all-too-human vulnerability. "Darkest Hour" and "Forgotten Memory" – with its echoes of Jimi Hendrix's "Little Wing" – quietly and gracefully swan dive all the way to rock bottom and yearn for salvation, while "Lost Prayer" has a hopeful, sunny glow ensconced in blues tradition.
Here, warm organ sounds coat a rich, organic blend of tasteful electric and acoustic guitar meditations, all backing resonant vocals soaked in too much melancholy. Melodies slowly evolve and take shape, in no hurry to articulate the inner turmoil of the artist. Tracks such as "Sorrowed Regret" and "The Levee" start out spare and haunting, before Wylde adds instrumental flesh to these creaking bones, in a sense gradually bringing them back to life in some sort of folk-rock resurrection. Spiritual and cathartic, Book of Shadows II is full of woe, evocative of a life of hard-earned lessons and turning inward to confront whatever demons are still in there.
– Peter Lindblad