It’s been 16 years since the last album from Kansas and I must admit that I wondered what the hell they had to say in the modern day. That it is being released in line with a tour playing ‘Leftoverture’ in its entirety only added to my concern. I needn’t have worried – it is a pretty good example of American Prog and a whole lot better than many of the other bands who are still treading the boards 40 years after their peak.
As ever with Kansas there are messages hidden within messages and obscuring other truths. Quoth Phil Ehart “Without a doubt this is a new musical beginning …. (the cover) shows a Phoenix flying from the past into the future”
The musical renaissance is to create an album that definitely has the stamp of Kansas at their best but without the shock of hearing ‘Carry On My Wayward Son’ for the first time.
All the trademarks are there – high vocals and soaring harmonies courtesy of Ronnie Platt and Billy Greer as well as neo-classical passages and some stunning violin from David Ragsdale. Erhart is a fine drummer and he works well with Billy Greer and Zak Rizvi is a truly clever and inventive guitarist. Keyboards player David Manion is kept under the main streams giving huge depth to the sound.
What I enjoyed the most though is the continuity of the album – it sits well in the canon of Kansas but it also stands as a modern interpretation of classic Prog rock.
Personal favourite tracks include ‘Rhythm In The Spirit’ which brings all of their elements together while ‘The Voyage Of Eight Eighteen’, led by Ragsdale’s violin, is classic Kansas in all its pomp; changes in tempo and key, impassioned vocals and driving drums and that howling guitar against the violin. ‘Visibility Zero’ is closest to the really big numbers of their past and well worthy of playing live.
I came to this album feeling very sceptical about a new Kansas album but really, this is a very good album – no matter who made it.