Lynyrd Skynyrd, ‘Last of a Dyin’ Breed’ – Album Review
Lynyrd Skynyrd place one foot in their past and one in the present, with mostly positive results, on their new album ‘Last of a Dyin’ Breed.’
Let’s face it, any album from the modern-day Skynyrd, with only Gary Rossington remaining from the group’s original roster, has to be graded on a curve. To compare ‘Last of a Dyin’ Breed’ to ‘Second Helping’ or ‘Street Survivors’ would do a disservice to both eras of this legendary band.
Besides, for 25 years now, the Rossington and Johnny Van Zant-fronted lineup has been keeping the music of Ronnie Van Zant, Allen Collins, Bob Burns and company alive in a very reverent and respectable manner. ‘Last of a Dyin’ Breed’ just might be the most comfortable they’ve ever seemed at both living up to their famous name and expressing their own vision.
After a gritty slide guitar opening from Rossington, Van Zant kicks off the album with a quick lyrical tribute to his departed brother — “Learned from the best, he taught me well” — before vowing to keep on keeping on as the band storm along behind him: “I hear that highway a-calling / Oh feel the breeze / An open highway’s all I’ll ever need / …Last of a dyin’ breed.”
The confident, well-paced strut of ‘One Day at a Time’ arrives next, and exemplifies what’s good about much of this record, with clear, muscular production showcasing strong riffs and oversized, crowd-friendly choruses. Occasionally, such as on ‘Homegrown’ and ‘Good Teacher,’ the band treads too far into chugging Nickelback-style modern radio territory, but for the most part they stick to modernized (and yes, sometimes over-polished) variations on their bread-and-butter Southern rock style.
Highlights include the impressively heart-tugging power ballad ‘Ready to Fly,’ on which an elderly mother tells her son she’s ready to join her loved ones in the great beyond, and the swampy, dynamic ‘Mississippi Blood,’ which features Van Zant trading vocals with former Blackfoot frontman (and sixteen-year Skynyrd veteran) Rickey Medlocke to fantastic effect.