Kip Winger has had an interesting career to say the least. With a name that's hard to take seriously and a run in the glam rock scene of the late 1980s that skyrocketed him to fame, Kip is one of those musicians you would suspect would turn up on some VH1 special. However, it appears that will not happen as his songwriting skills seem to only be getting stronger over the years. Of course, this is my first listen to his solo material but I am very impressed with what I've heard.
The first time I came across the name "Kip Winger" was with Alice Cooper's 1986 release Raise Your Fist and Yell. At that time he was a member of Cooper's band, but he was also an up and coming song writer (with co-writing credit on the song "Gail"). A couple of years later he would have his own band, Winger, riding high on the glam scene. The music was good but typical of the genre.
Winger was one of those bands that I really liked during this time, although public opinion seemed to turn fast as they were identified with wimpier rock fans typified by the lame Stewart character on MTV's Beavis and Butt-head, who was often depicted wearing a Winger t-shirt. Still, my enjoyment would not be undone by a feud between Winger and show creator Mike Judge. They were the very first band I ever saw in concert, back in the Spring of 1991 while on tour for their second album. What a blast that was.
The band would only release one more album during their heyday, the criminally underrated Pull in 1993. The band later reunited, releasing a fourth album in 2006 (which I haven't heard). Since then, Winger himself did not remain stagnant, releasing a couple of solo albums as well as an album of acoustic takes on Winger hits mixed with prior solo recordings.
All of this leads up to the lush From the Earth to the Moon, which is, quite frankly, a beautiful album. I am sure there are at least a few of you who will scoff at the very notion of Kip Winger producing well-crafted, thoughtfully-composed music, willing to linger on the, pirouette-performing, teased-hair, spandex-wearing version of Kyp Winger from the glam years. Those of you holding on to that image are just missing out.
This album is not a hard rocking album, don't expect another Winger release. This is an album filled with great melodies and atmospheric tunes that are soothing and introspective, yet still grooving and catchy. There are strong classic rock undercurrents flowing beneath the music, yet it still sounds contemporary, relevant, and original. There are hints of world music injected into the proceedings, likely from his collaboration with multi-instrumentalist Cenk Eroglu, hailing from Istanbul, Turkey.
I was instantly grabbed by the opening notes of "Every Story Told" with its use of samples and synth blended with layered acoustic guitar and Winger's strong voice. This leads the way for such numbers as "Nothing", the melancholy "Where Will You Go," and Middle Eastern-flavored instrumentals like "Ghosts".
From the Moon to the Sun strikes me as a deeply personal album for the songwriter. There is much sadness throughout, balanced with moments of hope and redemption. The music here is filled with the emotion of a man working through tough emotions, letting them all out in the recording studio. I never thought Kip had great tonal range as a singer, and that remains true here, but his passion makes up for any range issues in his music. Just listen to him sing, brimming with emotion without a tinge of sentimentality. Frankly, this may be the best music I have heard from him.
I've seen Kip Winger perform a solo acoustic show and I was terribly impressed with his ability; it opened my eyes to the artist that I took for granted so many years ago. While I was, and still am, a fan of Winger I cannot say I ever thought much of him as an artist thinking my enjoyment was purely nostalgic. After hearing that live performance and this recording, I'm amazed at the artistry that he displays. Perhaps I wouldn't be if I paid more attention to his earlier solo work. Be that as it may, I find this album downright enchanting.
Bottomline. This is an album that should not be ignored or written off. It is a mature work from an artist who seems to be more comfortable in his own skin as he grows older. When the majority of songwriters may begin petering out, he has only grown stronger.