Steve Walsh

Magna Carta Records, 2000

REVIEW BY: Duke Egbert


If you've been paying attention here on "The DailyVault," you know that Kansas released a CD recently, Somewhere To Elsewhere, and we've had interviews and features recently on "Power Chords". The first thing that comes to mind is that Glossolalia, the new solo disc from Kansas's lead vocalist Steve Walsh, is another attempt at promotion, a throw-away collection of songs to keep a name in prominence.

You might think that. You would be dead wrong as well. This is not a Kansas CD.

From the first moments of the title track, with Mike Slamer's churning, biting guitar intro, you're a million miles from the ethereal elegance of "Dust In The Wind". While Glossolalia occasionally sounds like Kansas musically, there's always enough departure that this should be… nay, my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250 must be… judged on its own.

So the question remains: what is Glossolalia? The result of a suggestion by Magna Carta president Pete Morticelli, Glossolalia was polished and refined by Walsh's friendship with Magellan keyboardist Trent Gardner. Gardner made the happy mistake of asking Walsh if he had any songs of his own. From that came this CD, a documentation of the personal struggles that Walsh has gone through over the last 25 years.

This is not a happy CD in many places. Walsh's career has been a proverbial roller-coaster: joining, then leaving, then joining, Kansas again; dealing with alcoholism and drug usage; and accepting the emotional changes and traumas that come with a life on the road. However, Walsh makes this more than a dues and blues CD, keeping the honest regret from descending into a morass of angst. Glossolalia is a sharp album, never failing to maintain its atmosphere of passion and anger. Yes, there are a few rough spots, a few meanderings, but it avoids degenerating into indulgence or blandness.

The musicianship is excellent. Bassist Billy Greer is the only member from Kansas who records on Glossolalia. Guitarist Michael Slamer (who was part of Walsh and Greer's early-80s project Streets), Gardner, and drummer Virgil Donati round out the band. Walsh should also be commended for musical experimentation: the title track has a strong metal influence. "Heart Attack" is funk with a spoken-word intro (note to Chris Thelen: Boss, I will NOT type the words "Steve Walsh raps". I'm sorry, you don't pay me enough), and "Mascara Tears" has a strong blues or torch song element.

Walsh is best, however, when he stays in his element of the power rock song. "Kansas" (which is about the state, not the band) is a dark, brooding testament to the blood-soaked nature of history, and "Smackin' The Clowns" is a powerful statement about childhood's end and innocence lost.

All in all, Glossolalia is a powerful, coherent statement about a man's past and his hopeful future. Kudos to Walsh for not only not doing just another Kansas album, but doing a CD that is, in many ways, as good as or better than much of what he's done with Kansas.

Rating: A-

User Rating: A



© 2000 Duke Egbert and The Daily Vault. All rights reserved. Review or any portion may not be reproduced without written permission. Cover art is the intellectual property of Magna Carta Records, and is used for informational purposes only.