Former Joan Jett & the Blackhearts guitarist Ricky Byrd has just released his third solo album, Sobering Times.

Like Byrd’s previous album, 2017’s Clean Getaway, the new record features songs focusing on the struggles of addiction and maintaining a sober lifestyle.

“[I]t follows the same theme [as Clean Getaway],” Ricky tells ABC Audio. “[I]t’s about addiction, recovery, hope, change for the better. But make no mistake, it’s all rock ‘n’ roll.”

Byrd has personal experience with the subject, and he decided to release Sobering Times on the 33rd anniversary of the start of his own sobriety.

Ricky says making a concept album also gave him the luxury of jumping around to a variety of musical styles he loves.

“Look at it this way: Yeah, I’m on Highway 61 [or] Route 66 or whatever, but I’m making stops in different towns that have different music,” he explains. “So, I could do a little bit of acoustic, folky kind of stuff there. There’s a little R&B over here. Yeah, there’s some Faces over here. Some juke joint over here…Some little bluesy [song].

A variety of musical guests contributed to Sobering Times, including ex-Wings drummer Steve Holley, longtime Blackhearts drummer Thommy Price, former Billy Joel drummer Liberty DeVitto and Southside Johnny and the Asbury Jukes keyboardist Jeff Kazee.

The album also features a duet with veteran New York singer/songwriter Willie Nile on a song called “Recover Me” that Byrd and Nile co-wrote. Ricky says its among the only duet recordings he’s ever done.

“I wanted it to be like a [rocking] Sam & Dave kind of thing,” he tells ABC Audio. “And that’s what it turned out like.”

Sobering Times is available now on CD and digitally. You can purchase signed CDs and special bundles at RickyByrd.com.

By Matt Friedlander
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