Well known as the voice of Kansas, Steve Walsh created, characterized and influenced a main part of progressive Rock all over the world. He is, without dispute, one of the best lead vocalists of all times!
His vocals and keyboard playing are mostly associated with songs like "Carry On Wayward Son", "Dust in the Wind" or "Point of Know Return".
But there are many more musical projects beside those with Kansas, that this phenomenal musician has created. From a contributory vocalist, to other bands to his full on solo albums.
His powerful voice and his unique emotional interpretation of music and lyrics have been a soundtrack to many peoples lives since the seventies, and he's far from done.
Shadowman was originally released by Walsh in 2005 but didn't get the attention it deserved. This new release has all the original tracks with Walsh, but also includes 2 bonus tracks recorded in 2007 with most of the same musicians:
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. --Vintage Rock
With a cracking four piece ensemble Steve Walsh lead vocalist of Kansas rocks out with a hard rock flourish on his new album Shadowman . While it might lack the drama and larger than life material that dominates much of Kansas output, it more than makes up for that through sheer invention, memorable melodies and outstanding playing. Walsh and his band make quite an entertaining album. Those expecting a Kansas like album will probably be disappointed but those expecting the unexpected from Walsh and a lot of musical invention will be pleased with the album if they give it a chance. Certainly the lbum lacks the balance of another songwriter like Kerry Livgren might have brought to the table but taken on its own it s a fine solo album and unexpectedly fun to listen to. ***
Rise opens up with the atmospherics one might expect to find on an art rock album by Brian Eno mixing a subdued synthesizer along with minimal percussion before bursting to life. Shadowman is infectious with a vocal that sounds as if Walsh is channeling the 70 s guru of rock Robert Plant. Davey and the Stone That Rolled Away plows more familiar prog rock turf with an inventive melody and Walsh s charged vocal. Keep on Knockin sounds like the typical rock boogie of Aerosmith. Pages of Old is a fascinating ballad featuring Walsh, the sound of guitar and a percolating bit of percussion with touches of synthesizer in the background. Hell Is For Heroes allws Walsh to rock out although the percussion sounds firmly entrenched in the 80 s the guitar is pure 90 s hard rock and backs Walsh s distinctive wail very well. After piles synthesizer effects on top of each other before the song breaks with a rollicking metal riff that drills itself into your brain. The closing track The River combines the larger than life balladry that we ve come to expect from Kansas. We may not be in Kansas anymore but we re pretty darn close to the territory Toto. All the hallmarks of Walsh s songwriting with that band are on display here. ***
The music itself is an unusual mishmash of the 70 s pomp rock that was popular when Kansas first started out married with the slicker production values of the 80 s and the power chord progressions of 90 s metal. One thing is for certain Walsh hasn t mellowed with age those expecting middle of the road ballads dominating the proceedings will be surprised. --Progressive Land
Give Steve Walsh credit for refusing to rest on his laurels. With Shadowman, the vocalist's first album since 2000's haunting and complex Glossolalia, Walsh embraces his inner metal god - Symphony X's virtuoso guitarist Michael Romeo even had a hand in shaping three of Shadowman's most dramatic pieces, for pete's sake - while often ignoring the savvy, accessible rock melodies around which he has built a successful career. At other times, the music here echoes songs from Kansas' Power and In the Spirit of Things era. Very little, however, recalls Glossolalia - a shame, really, because that emotionally draining record somehow felt like a privilege to hear.
"Rise" kicks off Shadowman with a plodding aimlessness, leaving listeners wondering if Walsh has finally lost the plot. Devoid of hooks and even a distinct structure, "Rise" also finds Walsh using his voice to experiment with a borderline death-metal delivery technique. The title track then segues to familiar late-Eighties Kansas territory with a solid backbeat, melancholy lyrics, majestic arrangements and a chorus that even manages to evoke Streets, the straightforward rock band Walsh formed after leaving Kansas in the early-Eighties. "Davey and the Stone That Rolled Away" continues that vibe and along with the surprisingly aggressive "Hell Is Full of Heroes" emerges as one of Shadowman's heaviest tracks. "Keep on Knockin'" basks in a classic-rock groove that in a slightly different format wouldn't have sounded out of place on an early Kansas album, while the stark ballad "Pages of Old" features a beautiful acoustic guitar and brooding, personal lyrics. Former Kansas violinist David Ragsdale joins Walsh on "After," an impressive 10-minute epic that places Walsh smack-dab in the middle of Leftoverture. "The River" closes this album, once again leaving the singer in familiar musical territory.
The man's voice, it should be noted, continues to sound stronger than it did during the Nineties, when his strained and gravelly delivery was often painful to hear -- for both him and us. Upon initial spins, I would have only given Shadowman three stars. Repeat listening sessions, however, have revealed to me in layers an album that demands my attention - and respect - convincing me to give it another star. I hope other open-minded listeners will feel the same way. --Sea of Tranquility