Artist: Steve Walsh
Genre: Progressive Rock
Label: Muse Wrapped Records
Steve Walsh spent the last year perfecting some unreleased songs he enjoyed on his Mac at home. The time he spent was well worth the effort as Shadowman is his finest solo effort to date.
I criticized Walsh for losing some of his vocal powers over the years on previous solo and Kansas albums. I do not know what he has done to correct it but they are back and he sounds great.
The first song puts the pedal to the medal right away. “Rise” is a prog-metal blast similar to what Dream Theater would do. Its heavy guitar licks, courtesy of Joel Kosche (Collective Soul), inspire Walsh to “Rise” to the occasion, summoning every ounce of energy and soul that he has to start the album with some major fireworks. It does not end there, there are seven more tracks to sink your teeth into, and it is all vintage Walsh. “Keep on Knockin’” is an inspired classic rocker; it has some heavy duty chops applied to it with Walsh belting out the lyrics full steam ahead every step of the way while adding his powerful and textured keyboards. “Hell is Full of Heroes” keeps up the momentum and there is even a cool little rap thing going on.
The Shadowman is whatever or whomever you make it. For the singer or the character in the song, I believe it is his deceased father. The premise is that the soul of this person is lurking just around the corner and he is trying to shake his memory and live a life of his own without the influence of another personality’s memory haunting him.
With the exception of some of the technological advances and effects, this album is certainly reminiscent of Kansas at the height of their powers. This is a good thing in my estimation. Walsh has old band mate David Ragsdale on violin for “After” to give you that old-time Kansas feel. This is one of the better rock albums you will hear this year, you can count on it. Shadowman is bound to create a buzz and generate some interest in previous Walsh and Kansas projects, and it should, it is a great album. Walsh is energized, inspired and in top form on this album.