Songs From The Ocean Floor

Kip Winger

Meadowlark Music, 2000

REVIEW BY: Christopher Thelen


Whatever you think about Kip Winger, you have to admit he's a survivor.

Although he was in one of the more popular pop-metal bands of the late '80s, just mentioning the name Winger to those who grew up in that timeframe might produce looks of disgust -- looks which, in retrospect, are undeserved. Yet he has continued in the music business, although in a smaller, more introspective role. The death of his wife in a car crash in 1996 was an incident that might have sent lesser men into a tailspin of grief. Yet Winger was able to look upon his pain and loss and create a surprisingly powerful album, Songs From The Ocean Floor.

If you pick this up expecting to hear the same musician who recorded songs such as "Seventeen" and "Headed For A Heartbreak," you're going to be disappointed. However, if you pick this disc up expecting to hear the man behind the music, you're going to be in for a treat... as well as one hell of an emotional rollercoaster.

The album teams Winger up with a diverse yet eclectic group of musicians, not the least of which is his former bandmates Rod Morgenstein and Reb Beach. Also making a surprising appearance is Moon Zappa, who contributes vocals on "Sure Was A Wildflower." This particular track is not one which leaps out at the listener on the first listen, but as you grow more comfortable with the disc, it becomes a hidden gem.my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250

There is no doubt that Winger uses Songs From The Ocean Floor as a way to deal with the tragic loss he was dealt in 1996. Tracks such as "Cross" and "Two Lovers Stand" seem to deal with life before his loss, almost as if it sets up a preface to the intense emotional scars that Winger rips open just a short time later.

"Song Of Midnight" seems to be the first track which begins this process, though it's more of a gentle love letter to one who was lost too young. Yet Winger seems to begin exposing the raw nerves in this track as he laments the lost chance to say goodbye: "My secret room... darkening / Eclipse my waking soul / Fuse the memory of our lost goodbye / To a story never told."

Following the instrumental-based "Free," Winger pulls out all the stops on "Only One Word," a song which leaves no doubt that the pain is still fresh. Sample lyric: "A river of novocain / could never ease the pain / that I'll never see you again." Another sample lyric, immediately following that line: "And I'm still so freaked / that we couldn't even speak / If only one, only one word / But no words were spoken / Your body lay broken." Ka-pow.

Yet Winger realizes that even in the sorrow, one must try to move forward with their life, and Songs From The Ocean Floor is as much a celebration of life as it is a cry of pain. "Resurrection" is proof that Winger does not want to be locked in a cycle of grief: "All I know, I don't wanna be dead and done / All I know is I don't wanna be a setting sun / Find a way to paint the color in my heart." As much as Winger will bear the scars of his loss, he boldly proclaims that he has the strength to continue -- something many widows and widowers struggle with throughout their lives. The healing process continues on the album's final song, "Everything You Need."

Musically, Songs From The Ocean Floor is an album that takes time for the listener to become comfortable with... but once you get past the awkwardness of listening to someone bear their heart for the world to hear, it proves to be a testament to the strength of the human soul. This is not something that can be forced, and Winger proves this comes straight from the heart even down to the musical arrangements. Encompassing Egyptian rhythms in many songs, Winger paints a portrait which allows the listener to almost see the man trying to come to grips as he walks the streets of Cairo.

Chances are Songs From the Ocean Floor will never spawn a hit single along the lines of "Seventeen." Somehow, I don't think that matters to Winger. He can be proud that he's created an album which challenges, as well as entertains, the listener, and is one which he could easily call his masterpiece.

Rating: A-

User Rating: Not Yet Rated



© 2000 Christopher Thelen 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 Meadowlark Music, and is used for informational purposes only.