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Album Review

Say this for Steve Walsh and his career outside of Kansas: it's not predictable. Well, that, and that he's been intent on rocking much harder on his solo records than he did in Kansas, a band that always favored elaborate dramatics. That was the case with his 1980 arena rock solo debut, Schemer-Dreamer, and that's the case a quarter of a century later with Shadowman, which rockets off with a bracing blast of speed metal riffs and pounding double bass drums. To that sonic assault Walsh marries a heavy dose of prog theatrics and socially conscious lyrics. It's a weird hybrid of big, slick '80s album rock, '70s arena pomp, modern metal, and '90s D.I.Y., all tied together with washes of art rock synths. It's not just heavy, it's bludgeoning, letting up only on the brooding acoustic "Pages of Old" and elegiac closer "The River." So, those expecting a mellow album from this 54-year-old — a bunch of "Dust in the Wind," perhaps — should just forget it, because this is an idiosyncratic heavy rock album with heavy drama and heavy issues. Since each track plays like a multi-part epic even when it lacks multiple parts, this can be a bit exhausting to hear. While this may not be easy to listen to — it's not just too deliberately heavy, but it's too insular, with little breathing room for the listener — Shadowman is almost admirable: say what you will, Walsh is pursuing his own muse, labels and audiences be damned. There may not be many who want to follow him, but at least he's following his own path. [Prog Rock's 2008 edition featured two bonus tracks.]


Born: 15 June 1951 in St. Joseph, MO

Genre: Rock

Years Active: '80s, '00s

As the vocalist for Kansas, Steve Walsh's strong and certain delivery made "Carry On Wayward Son," "Dust in the Wind," and "Point of Know Return" radio staples of the '70s. He also fronted the short-lived Streets and sporadically issued solo albums, one of which has landed on numerous "worst album cover" lists. Born in St. Joseph, MO, Walsh's family moved to Kansas when he was 12. Records by the Vanilla Fudge, the Yardbirds, the Seeds, and Iron Butterfly were teenage favorites and influenced Walsh...
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Shadowman, Steve Walsh
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