Shadowman

Steve Walsh

ProgRock Records has re-released Kansas singer Steve Walsh’s 2005 album Shadowman, repackaged with two new tunes. The heavy thud behind these ten songs might come as a surprise given the diminutive Mr. Walsh’s progressive rock fame with Kansas. In his case, rocking harder isn’t necessarily a bad thing

Starting off “Rise” (complete with some cool distorted Walsh vocals), we are soon into familiar melodic territory with the next couple of .tracks. There’s a bunch of aggression here, which serves Walsh’s voice pretty well against the big sound of Joe Franco’s drums (he of Twisted Sister fame) and some Kansas-like orchestration at the tail end of the song (Michael Romoe is credited with “giga symphony”).

“Davey And The Stone That Rolled Away” is pretty much a straight-ahead rock and roll number, and you gotta love Joel Kosche’s guitar in “Keep On Knockin’” (he of Collective Soul fame). “Pages Of Old” is adorned with pretty acoustic guitars and a heartfelt vocal. It’s definitely one of the best songs on the album, sustained by Walsh’s plaintive pleas, a solid and hypnotic rhythm, and well-produced orchestration. You know how when you hear a great power ballad and it only stays quiet for the first 30 seconds or so before breaking out into a full band kick-ass production? Well, that’s not what happens on “Pages Of Old.”

“After,” at nine minutes, sounds a little like a Kansas tune, maybe a bit long, but pretty much a solid romp of different styles and shading with long instrumental breaks and probably the best lyric Walsh delivers on the album. “The River” comes with a real strong Steve Walsh vocal, open light acoustics, and a pseudo gospel feel. My only complaint is that it’s a little too long, but it’s still a great tune. “Faule Dr. Roane” and “Dark Day,” the bonus tracks, are exceptionally strong, not the usual scraps and left-overs kept off the original release for a reason! David Ragsdale (violinist Robby Steinhardt’s replacement in Kansas) is smoking on both.

Walsh says of Shadowman: “It's hard to put into words what writing these songs meant to me. I don't think I was born to do it. But over time, I was able to feel things that I blocked out for many years, hell maybe I never felt them before at all.” It’s good to see Shadowman get its due and a full fair airing.

~ Ralph Greco, Jr.

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