April 19, 2001

Test Spins: John Kay

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John Kay breaks out his acoustic guitar and his social conscience on an effort that pays tribute to his folk and blues roots. The fourth solo recording from the former Steppenwolf frontman, Heretics & Privateers is a collection of songs that offers a gritty and introspective look at everyday life.

Conjuring up the idealism of another era, Kay attempts to transport us back to 1962, when Dylan was still novel and Baez was cool. Kay’s lyrics tap into a more modern mindset, however; “Don’t Waste My Time” criticizes the pace of modern life, while “I Will Not Be Denied” attacks commercialism.

For all of Kay’s ability to read contemporary American culture’s flaws, his criticisms are occasionally at odds with the music, which cries out for meatier topics.

But Kay’s sincerity is a key element throughout the album, transforming a potentially awkward social commentary into a thought-provoking recording.

Archived article by Jennifer Gardner