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Steve Walsh biography
Steve Walsh is one of America's consummate vocal treasures; that status is assured. But he is also a man that is a true creator, an artist, a shaper of sounds and an almost literary, cinematic portrayer of life's terrains. Walsh has seen many of these terrains, from vantage points above, below and perceptively within, and his ability to bring them to life for his listeners is a gift of sensory completeness. Glossolalia, the man's first solo album in two decades, focuses years of hard-fought rock 'n' roll wisdom, creating a canvas that mirrors this ability to look at all strata and indeed all time, and make sense out of a life that can often be seen as surreal and meaningless.

Steve Walsh's primary gallery has of course been that enigmatic progressive rock collective known as KANSAS. As lead vocalist and keyboardist for all but three years of the band's twenty-year existence, Walsh is the expression behind such hits as 'Carry On My Wayward Son', 'Dust In The Wind' (recently recast with the London Symphony Orchestra), and 'Point Of Know Return', taking records like Song For America, Masque, Leftoverture, and Monolith to stadiums all over the world, gold and platinum accolades flowing despite the cerebral quality of the band's ouevre. Add to this two records with tough rock act Streets, a well-regarded solo album called Schemer Dreamer, as well as a KANSAS reunion album later this year, and Walsh emerges behind Kerry Livgren's shadow as an equal in both the creation of the KANSAS sound, and in extra-curricular artistic accomplishment.


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Schemer DreamerSchemer Dreamer
Import · Remastered
Rock Candy 2010
Audio CD$10.44
$10.43 (used)
Audio CD$11.02
$8.88 (used)
Audio CD$8.06
$5.62 (used)
Daily SpecialsDaily Specials
Animal Music 2012
Audio CD$13.77
$15.70 (used)
CD Baby 2006
Audio CD$19.99 (used)
Right Now on Ebay (logo)
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1 day
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USD $6.49 Buy It Now
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Steve Walsh Schemer Dreamer LP IN SHRINK 1980 Kansas CLEAN!!!!!!! USD $15.29 Buy It Now 3 days
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STEVE WALSH AND THE PARTY FAITHFUL Party For The World Vinyl LP Telstar 1988 EX USD $9.69 Buy It Now 13 days
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STEVE WALSH - Let's Get Together Tonite - Excellent Condition 7" Single A1 303 USD $4.84 Buy It Now 15 days
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Kansas Leftoverture CD [Remastered/Expanded/+2] *SEALED US Ver 2001 Steve Walsh USD $39.95 Buy It Now 17 days
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STEVE WALSH discography

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STEVE WALSH top albums (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

2.30 | 20 ratings
Schemer Dreamer
3.43 | 53 ratings
3.32 | 30 ratings

STEVE WALSH Live Albums (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

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STEVE WALSH Boxset & Compilations (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

STEVE WALSH Official Singles, EPs, Fan Club & Promo (CD, EP/LP, MC, Digital Media Download)

3.31 | 8 ratings
Dark Days/Faule Dr Roane


Showing last 10 reviews only
 Glossolalia  by WALSH, STEVE album cover Studio Album, 2000
3.43 | 53 ratings

Steve Walsh Crossover Prog

Review by b_olariu
Prog Reviewer

3 stars 3.5 stars really

Steve Walsh is without doubt one of the most pleasent and recognazible voices in prog music and in music in general, he made history with Kansas but also he has a solo career. His first solo album was released when Kansas was on the waves of popularity worldwide in 1980, his second offer will come 20 years later named Glossolalia in 2000 a Magna Carta issue. Well, this album took more then usual to get into, but after I discoverd his underneath treasures I definetly say that is his best solo album and why not can easely rival with Kansas around that time. Glossolalia is an eclectic album, hard to categorized, when is prog rock, when is almost prog metal when is rock, but all pieces had a truly progressive atmosphere. Besides music who is very debanding , quirky most of the time, the line -up is top notch, his Kansas mate on bass Billy Greer, Virgil Donati on drums, the master behind Magellan music - Trent Gartner on keyboards and various instruments and few more invited guest, so a stellar line-up. The high light for me are opening title track Glossolalia, Serious Wreckage - here Walsh demonstrates that is still in bussines big time, a truly great piece and Haunted Man, the rest are also good but not really spectacular. Some of the arrangements of course recalls Kansas but also Magellan's music, Trent Gartner was also the producer of the album and co writte some passages with Walsh, so his wrtting manner are to be found here and there. All in all more then decent album, with some very good original parts but also some more usual ones, but overall is good. I think fans of Kansas will get into Glossolalia pretty hard, is not quite one spin album. 3.5 stars for sure. Intresting art work and strange in same time, like the title of the album who is know as speaking in tongues without meaning of any word said.

 Shadowman by WALSH, STEVE album cover Studio Album, 2005
3.32 | 30 ratings

Steve Walsh Crossover Prog

Review by YagKosha

5 stars I was not entirely inclined to write up a review until I saw all of the poor ratings. I have to stick up for this album, because I believe it is a masterpiece. Every song on this album does it for for me; beginning to end. Everybody seems to be in love with Walsh's album "Glossolalia" and obviously not too impressed by this release, Shadowman. I enjoy Glossolalia, it's an excellent experimental album that has its moments, but for me, Shadowman as an entire album is one masterful moment.

I will try hard to concisely share my thoughts on the music in one paragraph, because I know if I go beyond that then I will sound like a complete windbag:

Excellent melodies and rhythms are present throughout in this beautifully crafted electronic and symphonic progressive rock masterpiece. In songs like the title-track, you are introduced to beautifully poetic lyrics with excellent piano and orchestral arrangements as well as a very catchy chorus. "Hell is Full of Heroes" is an archetypal example of what I believe progressive rock should be. It is full of twists and turns with symphonic elements to electronic dance moments, and it surprisingly manages to work. "After" is one of the most epic songs you will ever hear; I won't bother describing it, you should just hear it. For some, the closing track "The River," may seem to be a rather cheesy radio southern rock song, and it kind of is, but there's no denying it's still a fantastic tune. Just like the entire album.

 Glossolalia  by WALSH, STEVE album cover Studio Album, 2000
3.43 | 53 ratings

Steve Walsh Crossover Prog

Review by VanVanVan
Prog Reviewer

3 stars Well, well, well, we've certainly come a long way since Schemer Dreamer. Once known as the more straightforward, AOR element of Kansas, Steve Walsh has really come into his own as a songwriter, and that is very clear from this solo album. Featuring a huge variety of styles (some of which work better than others), I honestly feel there is material on here that can certainly rival Kerry Livgren's work, despite Livgren generally being thought of as the proggier songwriter. Be aware, though, this is not a Kansas album, and in fact has a lot more to do with modern progressive metal than it does with the kind of symphonic prog Kansas plays. That said, this is still a good, albeit flawed album, and fans of Walsh should find plenty to like.

The title track begins the album on a rather ominous note, and a surprisingly heavy one as well. Pounding riffs overlay rather sinister synths, and Walsh's now-raspy voice complements the combination perfectly with half-spoken, darkly poetic lyrics. A strange electronic section in the middle of the track breaks up the flow a little bit, but it also kind of works, giving the track a disjointed feel that goes well with its bizarre arrangment. Walsh also makes great use of the changes his voice has undergone, with raw, rasping vocals giving the music an extra edge that even his greatest moments in Kansas never had. "Glossolalia" is a very strange track, but a pretty good one and a definite message that this isn't Kansas anymore.

"Serious Wreckage" is one of the few songs I can point to where the lyrics really make the song. Much of the track I think would come off as a cheesy ballad were the lyrics not so deadly serious (about a drunk driving incident in which a child was killed). As a result, the song comes off incredibly poignantly, with a hugely emotional performance from Walsh. Additionally, the second half of the song is very dark musically, with the same kind of sinister synths of the first track and some very heavy guitars as well. The upshot of it all is that by the time the track reaches its epic vocal conclusion "Serious Wreckage" feels more like an epic than a ballad.

"Heart Attack" I would say is the first misstep of the album. With an 80s disco beat and pseudo-rap vocals from Walsh juxtaposed with elements of prog metal, it's really a rather baffling song that comes off as almost painfully forced after the very heartfelt previous track. There are sections that sound like they could be decent prog-metal in a different context, but when they're overlaid with disco vocals from a man who absolutely should not be singing in that style I rather have to wonder what Mr. Walsh was thinking.

"Kansas," however, more than makes up for it. It's songs like this that make me yearn for another Kansas album with Walsh in a prominent writing role, because this track conclusively proves that he's come a long way since "Power" and even since "Freaks of Nature." "Kansas" is nuanced, dark, and melodically gorgeous, and far more reminiscent of his colleague Kerry Livgren's work than of the AOR pop-rock that Walsh used to put out. Haunting keyboards and another vocal line that makes excellent use of the new rawness in Walsh's voice. This is easily one of the highlights of the album and, in my opinion, one of the best songs Walsh has ever written.

"Nothing" is a much more stripped down affair after the complex orchestration of "Kansas," but it definitely shows another side of Walsh as a songwriter, and one that's just as effective. With beautifully arranged piano and guitar setting up a spare but effective musical backtrack, Walsh delivers another great vocal performance, singing both tenderly and powerfully, and the decades of experience in his voice only add to the performance.

"Haunted Man" is another strange one. Starting off with a catchy, simple, guitar and vocal part, the song quickly launches into a bombastic, heavy rocker of a track with hooks aplenty. Unfortunately, this is one song where I don't think the changes in Walsh's voice have been kind, and as a result I think the track lacks quite a bit of the punch it could have had if Walsh were in his prime. Obviously that's not his fault, but this song, to me, is far from the level of songwriting of "Kansas."

"Smackin' The Clowns," on the other hand, is great. Despite its rather goofy title, the track is a bona-fide prog-metal epic, with virtuosic guitar parts and a stirring narrative about a circus burning down in a small town. Tons of different melodies (most of them quite good) and instrumental sections make appearances in this track, and once again Walsh's voice is used to great effect. This is especially notable in the final third of the track, with a brief spoken word monologue that actually works very well. You can hear the pain and intense emotion in Walsh's voice, and I think that's one of the reasons the song is so good. The song concludes with a reprise of the musical themes of the first part of the track, and of course the narrative ends as well. Another definite highlight.

Unfortunately, "That's What Love's All About" is another one that doesn't really do it for me. Half R & B and half AOR, this is not (in my opinion) one of Walsh's better compositions, and it simply pales in comparison to much of the rest of the album. Add in the fact that sections of this sound like they're still trying to be proggy, with orchestral synths parts and the like, and you have to wonder what is going on with this one.

"Mascara Tears" works a little better, with a very melodic, tender piano part and some almost crooning vocals from Walsh. While it's a decidedly simpler song than "Kansas" or "Smackin' the Clowns," it's certainly still a great track, with a very vintage kind of classy sound and a really stellar vocal performance from Walsh as well. I think it would have made an excellent closer for the album and I'm always a bit disappointed when there's another song.

The reason for that is that "Rebecca" is simply not that good. Though it begins with a fairly promising atmospheric section, it quickly devolves into a fairly standard AOR number. I wouldn't be surprised to learn that this was a leftover from Walsh's Streets days, because it simply screams "power ballad." Unfortunately, that's not really the kind of track that works particularly well with Walsh's voice anymore, and after the smooth class of "Mascara Tears" "Rebecca" comes off as a bit of a let-down, or at the very least a bit underwhelming.

Ultimately, Glossolalia is a good album which is severely limited by its low points. It's very hard to take the album seriously without dismissing songs like "Heart Attack" outright, and I honestly don't know if I would enjoy this album as much as I do were it not for the sizable nostalgia factor it carries for me. I do truly believe that "Kansas" and "Smackin' the Clowns" are very good songs that most prog fans should enjoy, but there's also some definite filler, and I would imagine that listeners who are not already fans of Walsh might have trouble making it through the whole album without pressing the skip button.

2.5/5, rounded up.

 Shadowman by WALSH, STEVE album cover Studio Album, 2005
3.32 | 30 ratings

Steve Walsh Crossover Prog

Review by Ovidiu

1 stars Definitelly a dissapointing album under all aspects!When we think at the majesty of GLOSSOLALIA-a true masterpiece almost-this album is a major flop!Unbelieveble weak compositions,lack of inspiration and very,very poor musical ideas!It's almost unbelieveble to see how such an amazing musician is able to have such failure in his career!This album is bad from the beginning to the end and I am wondering how Walsh got a contract,a record deal! In fact,GLOSSOLALIA was recorded under the mark of MAGNA CARTA,but this new one got credits from FRONTIERS in Europe-but that's only for the pedigree of WALSH-a very capable musician!If this album is only an experiment-that's a negative one-and we hope to have in the future more mature and elaborated albums like this mistake!Not even a memorable song- PURE GARBAGE!Hardly 1 STARS for respect for the man with such a great voice and for what he did in KANSAS!
 Schemer Dreamer  by WALSH, STEVE album cover Studio Album, 1980
2.30 | 20 ratings

Schemer Dreamer
Steve Walsh Crossover Prog

Review by SouthSideoftheSky
Special Collaborator Symphonic Team

1 stars The worst cover art in history?

I am a big fan of Kansas and I love Steve Walsh's vocals in Kansas music. Indeed, he is one of my favourite singers. But not even his biggest fans should be able to swallow this stinker of an album! Released around the same time as Kansas' Audio-Visions which was the last album Walsh did with Kansas before he left the band (but he thankfully returned later in the decade). The 80's were hardly Kansas best years but even the two albums Kansas did with John Elefante (Vinyl Confessions and Drastic Measures) are almost masterpieces compared to Schemer Dreamer!

What we have here is a mix of Rock 'N' Roll, Rockabilly and Southern Rock with totally generic lyrics and hardly any progressive tendencies whatsoever. The compositions are wholly middle of the road and utterly forgettable. Walsh is a really great singer but, like with any singer, he has to have good material to sing and this is clearly lacking here.

One thing that makes this album noteworthy is that Steve Morse plays on it! Morse would later join Kansas when Walsh returned to the fold to record Power and In The Spirit Of Things. But do not expect any of the brilliance Morse displayed on these future albums here. This is not Kansas and neither is it The Dixie Dregs. It is almost unbelievable that such greats as Steve Morse and also Kerry Livgren, Rich Williams and Phil Ehart agreed to play on this album, instead they should have told Walsh that this is unacceptable and sent him back to the drawing board. Schemer Dreamer is the worst album Steve Walsh ever made and the awful cover art fits the music quite nicely!

Recommended only for completionists!

 Dark Days/Faule Dr Roane by WALSH, STEVE album cover Singles/EPs/Fan Club/Promo, 2007
3.31 | 8 ratings

Dark Days/Faule Dr Roane
Steve Walsh Crossover Prog

Review by Epignosis
Special Collaborator Eclectic Prog Team

4 stars I seriously hope Steve Walsh was lying through his teeth when he claimed these would be the last songs of his life. His skill as a musical craftsman has improved tremendously since the turn of the century, perhaps because the man had finally decided to discard the childish pretense of the arena rock star and concentrate his abilities into projects full of reflection and observation, thereby enabling him to compose music that is both lyrically and musically deep. Both Glossolalia and Shadowman are recommended (the former more so than the latter), and this surprise two-track EP will receive no less praise from me. The music is cumbersome and thick, but despite what the album artwork or titles might have one to believe, not altogether dark, as most of it sticks with a major key and remains fairly upbeat with great hooks and amazing execution. For those dyed-in-the-wool Kansas fans, these two pieces might have found an appropriate home on Freaks of Nature, as they boast a similar thick, edgy, raw sound, as well as swirling violin from David Ragsdale.

"Dark Day" I was not expecting the synthesizer tone that began this piece, but it establishes the main theme so that the majestic violin could take it over, playing it on top of dense overdriven guitar. Intelligent lyrics paint a nightmarish image in spite of a bright and wonderfully memorable melody (I'll be damned if I wasn't singing this song after the first time hearing it). The guitar solo is admirable- technical without overcompensating. Simply put, this is one of Walsh's most amazing pieces.

"Faule Dr Roane" Electric guitar churns out a crunchy riff that gives way to soft acoustic and lovely violin. While not as smoothly structured as its brother on this EP, this lengthier work is almost just as memorable, containing even more esoteric (yet seemingly historical) lyrics. The composition exists in the throes of progressive metal and symphonic rock. Robust and intriguing, the instrumental section incorporates several effects and new sounds (like that of a Mediaeval battle- one can hear the swords and halberds clash) before falling into a tight jam with many great guitar licks. Here lies another fantastic piece of music, but hopefully not a certain keyboardist's solo career.

 Dark Days/Faule Dr Roane by WALSH, STEVE album cover Singles/EPs/Fan Club/Promo, 2007
3.31 | 8 ratings

Dark Days/Faule Dr Roane
Steve Walsh Crossover Prog

Review by SouthSideoftheSky
Special Collaborator Symphonic Team

3 stars A not so dark a day in Kansas

This EP/single by Kansas singer Steve Walsh contains two strong tracks and about 15 minutes of music in total. As far as I understand this was never given a physical release, but were only made available as MP3 downloads. But I do think that some versions of Walsh's solo album Shadowman had these two songs tagged on as bonus tracks.

Ironically, given the title of the first song, these songs are less dark and more melodic compared to the material on Walsh's solo album Glossolalia (I have yet to hear his most recent full lenght solo effort Shadowman) and more in line with his day job in Kansas. This is partly due to the strong presence of violin, here played by sometime Kansas member David Ragsdale, and partly due to the more Kansas-like song writing. These songs therefore have a more "classic" feel.

In addition to the great violin play we also have strong guitar work that is a bit more melodic and less aggressive compared to what we find on Glossolalia. The up tempo, five and a half minute, Dark Day features a strong melody and a good vocal. Steve's vocals are not quite what they used to be, but I still like his distinctive voice very much here. On some recent Kansas live recordings his voice was clearly a bit strained and he often tried to outdo himself with unnecessary vocal acrobatics. Here, however, his voice sounds just fine.

Personally, I enjoy these songs very much. For fans of Kansas, this EP is highly recommended. For the Prog fan in general this is a very good addition to your collection but - particualrly as it is only a short EP - not essential.

 Glossolalia  by WALSH, STEVE album cover Studio Album, 2000
3.43 | 53 ratings

Steve Walsh Crossover Prog

Review by Cesar Inca
Special Collaborator Honorary Collaborator

4 stars "Glossolalia" is my favorite among all Steve Walsh solo efforts, a testimony of this Kansas man's vision of eclectic rock, where power and emotion collide with conviction. This work was being recorded and produced almost in parallel with the Livgren-comeback album "Somewhere to Elsewhere" that signified a particularly strong return to the band's 70s trend. So, that moment in time can be interpreted as a confluence of old Kansas' refurbishment and Walsh's aim at an evolution as writer and performer. The album gets started with all engines on ? the namesake opener brings an intense mixture of prog metal, industrial rock (a-la NIN) and tribal ambiences, all of them converging in an amalgam that reveals itself as portraying abrasive dynamics as well as angriness? or something like it. The ethnic-oriented coda is dreamy and, well, a bit scary, too. Equally dramatic but bearing a less extroverted mood, 'Serious Wreckage' states a reflective twist about the dangers of the human psyche's dark side. The use of stylish developments in the instrumental interlude manages to capitalize the track's epic potential in an accurate fashion. 'Heart Attack' brings an industrial-driven orientation to a melodic basis that seems quite focused on your typical AOR, with added spices of dance music: interesting, not great but worth our close attention. 'Kansas' is one of the longest songs in the album. It has a very epic feel to it, but don't expect something like 'The Pinnacle' or 'Hopelessly Human' here: this is not a song based on the architecture of various motifs but the result of the expansion of a focused main motif, an expansion whose strategy intends to build up some atmospheres and generate a crescendo out of it. The spoken parts at the end sound like voices in a strange dream, in this way completing the idea of impending darkness that (at least, as I notice) stems from the aforementioned crescendo. 'Nothing' is a sweet, melancholic ballad that strays away from the preceding track's bombastic development ? with an instrumentation of piano, acoustic and slide guitars, Walsh delivers a moving meditation of solitude and nostalgia. 'Haunted Man' has to be the most notable rocker in the album: while not recapturing the effective weirdness of 'Glossolalia' (and certainly not aiming at that), it creates a more cohesive rocking force than 'Heart Attack', hence, encapsulating one of the album's main focuses with great success. 'Haunted Man' wouldn't have been out of place on the "Freaks of Nature" or "In the Spirit of Things" albums. 'Smackin' the Clowns' is the album's longest track, designed to be what it is: the progressive highlight. With lyrics based on a sad real-life story of a circus going down in flames, the song displays a tasteful set of arrangements to link main body, bridges, choruses and interludes. Both this track and 'Kansas' are sonically related to post-"Test of Wills" Magellan: definitely, collaborator Trent Gardner has had big room for his input. 'That's What Love's All About' is nice, with some appeal inherited from the 90s alternative rock standard, but all in all, I don't find it that great. 'Mascara Tears' is more appealing to me: a rock ballad set on a semi-blues mood and ornamented with solid keyboard orchestrations, it bears a cleverly constructed sensibility that may at times remind you of a Broadway play song in a particularly dramatic momentum. A great song, indeed. 'Rebecca' end the album in yet another demonstration of emotional drive Walsh- style: this second ballad in a row comes under a Gospel-like guise, being less romantic than the preceding one but retaining its evocative power. The lead guitar phrases emphasize the song's delivery quite efficiently. And so, Steve Walsh's second effort deserves to be labeled as a great addition to any art-rock collection.
 Shadowman by WALSH, STEVE album cover Studio Album, 2005
3.32 | 30 ratings

Steve Walsh Crossover Prog

Review by Epignosis
Special Collaborator Eclectic Prog Team

4 stars Glossolalia showed the heavier side of Walsh, but this album bares its teeth and spirals into full-fledged progressive metal at many turns. Still, there is so much variety here in terms of sound and instrumentation that I think claims that this is a "progressive metal" album are unfounded. This is an absolutely solid work, with tight musicianship and spirited compositions.

"Rise" Almost like an epic war movie soundtrack, the album opens with strings and the beating of drums, but that is no indication of the metal onslaught soon to occur. The impeccable drumming almost outshines everything else on this song, including the masterful guitar playing (the solo is performed over a quickly slowing tempo, which I think is cool). Walsh even engages in a big of growling during the chorus.

"Shadowman" A cleaner (but just as dark) song follows up the blast heard first. The lyrics are picturesque, vaguely describing change and the observation of change. Again, the drums carry the song through and keep it chugging along. The acoustic-laced section in the middle has some great vocalization over it, before the whole sound drops off the planet to make room for orchestral music and a heavy metal detour back to the refrain, one of the catchiest parts of the album.

"Davey and the Stone that Rolled Away" Guitar and drums take turns before coming together into something more cohesive. I would consider this a slightly complex modern rock song until the strings enter. The instrumental section takes on a sophisticated manner due to the strings, and after a while, the song returns to the more simplistic rock that came before.

"Keep On Knockin'" This one is an old-fashioned, gritty, straightforward rocker with a shuffling beat and a steady, one-note bass line. As such, it lends itself to some guitar soloing, and Joel Kosche provides just plenty.

"Pages of Old" A pleasing acoustic section introduces Walsh's forlorn vocals. Delicate, plucked strings and other instrumentation add gentle layers of sound. A classical guitar solo concludes the song. The words are sad, similar to "Nothing" and "Serious Wreckage" of the previous album.

"Hell is Full of Heroes" Such a provocative title beggars hearing. Unfortunately, it's a fast-paced rock song with a dance beat and vocals so muddy it's difficult to hear what's being sung. The orchestral sections are brilliant, but come in abruptly and seemingly without reason. Then, out of nowhere, comes an early 1990s dance beat and some rapping before going back into the chorus. Had the song been better arranged, it would have been a much stronger piece.

"After" The longest piece kicks off right away with thundering drums, fiery guitar, and keyboard flourishes for good measure. David Ragsdale brings his violin prowess onto this song, lending it even more majesty than the arrangement itself has mustered. The introduction to this track would have been right at home on the Kansas album Somewhere to Elsewhere. The vocal sections are over bass and drums until the thrusts of electric guitar pop in. One short instrumental segment sounds closer to traditional Persian music. When an underwater-sounding Walsh sings over some spacious music, I know I am hearing a highlight of the album. The segment that follows is equally pleasing, and again, would have fit in with the aforementioned Kansas record. The final moments build into an exciting, string-laden climax charging straight to the conclusion. Overall, this is simply extraordinary work.

"The River" The final song sounds like a pop-single, but it's an excellently crafted song. I question its place in the track order, but that's no reason to knock it.

 Glossolalia  by WALSH, STEVE album cover Studio Album, 2000
3.43 | 53 ratings

Steve Walsh Crossover Prog

Review by Epignosis
Special Collaborator Eclectic Prog Team

4 stars The turn of the century was a good omen for progressive rock music, and especially for fans of Kansas. The band reunited and produced a new studio album. Kerry Livgren released one of his best solo efforts yet. And then here's this: After twenty years, Steve Walsh put out another one. Having endured years of a harrowingly self-destructive lifestyle, Walsh is an aged man, riddled with the consequences of past behavior. Gone are the days when he looked for a hit (in more ways than one), making music with an aim toward a large following and lined pockets. There is genuineness to the content of this album- it has heart and soul, even if they are dismal and grave much of the time. The sound palette is somewhat eclectic, moving through a variety of textures, not the least of which are neo-progressive and progressive metal ones. Magellan co-founder Trent Gardner plays a monumental role on this album, contributing in nearly every capacity. While Walsh's wrecked voice is certainly a disappointment for many Kansas fans, I find it works very well on his solo work, and helps to give his own music a completely different flavor. The few weak tracks on the album in no way rob it of its power or relevance. Hearing it afresh has given me a deeper appreciation for the voice of Kansas.

"Glossolalia" The way the lyrics are half-spoken and half-sung make me think of some of Adrian Belew's work on King Crimson's Discipline. There are some synthetic drums and a Vocoder for parts of this odd track. The percussion and canting at the end add to its eclectic nature, finishing it with a distant tribal feel.

"Serious Wreckage" This soft yet harsh track is one of my favorites here. The lyrics are hauntingly good, describing an ill-fated night about when the narrator accidentally runs over a little boy. The somber lyrics are absolutely some of the best Walsh has ever penned, and it chills me to listen to them: "Serious wreckage, wet, wet, bloody, wet- one drink to remember, one more to forget that serious wreckage. He could have changed the world, but look what he got. He could have been everything, everything that I am not. So I take flowers to the funeral, but I've forgotten how to grieve, and I struggle every night with what to believe." Dark strings and piano make up the majority of the music. After a heavy segment, one of the best musical moments of the album begins, with choir, synthesizer, and additional strings.

"Heart Attack" More spoken lyrics over some funky early 1990s pop music makes up this track. The guitar soloing is rather good, but for the most part, this song annoys me. It almost seems like a dance song, and there's a section of vocalizing that I don't care much for. While certainly not my thing, I wouldn't call it a horrible song. The lyrics also reference "Haunted Man"

"Kansas" Haunting synthesizer and timpani give way to a bright piano on this lengthy piece, before some magnificent vocals come in. The lyrics are similar to a subject Kansas had been interested years before, that of the plight of the Native American. It's a powerful track, and, while the main instrumentation is unique, the vocals carry it to greatness. The sinister vocal effects on the final, repeated line, is a revisiting of one of the lines in "Glossolalia."

"Nothing" A stark, Midwestern country sound with steel guitar lines provide the perfect contrast on this album. What's more, Walsh's voice is mature and soothing. This unassuming song makes me think of Johnny Cash in the twilight of his life, particularly when he covered the Nine Inch Nails song, "Hurt." It is a song of reflection, one that considers a decadent life ill-spent and recognizes the critical import of another existence.

"Haunted Man" I love the instrumentation here (including the well-used bass and synthetic drums). Walsh's singing is appropriately restless during the refrain, a clear contrast to the softer verses. Some frantic guitar consumes the song, bringing things back to the chorus.

"Smackin' the Clowns" A spoken line sets the stage for this tragic narrative song: "Don't forget what circus day means to a small town." The lyrics describe the aftermath of a burned down circus and the effect it has on the narrator. The music begins somewhat delicately as the tension builds, and then it becomes all-out progressive metal for a while. The words are sung over changing time signatures, the likes of which make this one of the most complex songs on the album. Never before has Walsh constructed so sophisticated and heartfelt a song. The lyrics are loaded with brilliant metaphors and poignant observations, some of which one may have to actually read to appreciate.

"That's What Love is All About" A heavy rocker with airier verses, this song sounds like something that would have fit on Kansas's Power album. It revolves around straightforward electric guitar riffs and a somewhat catchy chorus. The music is strong, even if forgettable.

"Mascara Tears" Emotional piano gives way to an uncomplicated jazz lounge-like song. The instrumentation picks up during the chorus. Overall, I find this to be on the bland side, especially compared to so many robust songs that came prior.

"Rebecca" The final track has a grand introduction that gives way to something of another straight-ahead rock song. The screaming guitar solo finishes the album on a high note, or a few of them, rather.

Thanks to ProgLucky for the artist addition.

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