It has been quite a few years since Kevin Gilbert has left us. He was so gifted and prolific, I hope it takes several more CDs as incredible as this one to reveal all of his amazing creations to us. This CD (with Bolts) is part of a pair of productions, what the estate of Kevin calls his singer-songwriter recordings. I would say that is accurate, yet there are definitely some recognizable progressive-rock leanings, as Kevin was a big fan.
Opening song “The World Just Gets Smaller” will be familiar to fans of Kevin’s old band Giraffe. What Kevin has a knack for is telling a story with his lyrics as in songs like “Shannon Elizabeth” and “Tired Old Man.” The first an ode to the joy of youth and the other is a clever retelling of the Pinocchio story.
The production, for stuff that KG was just leaving around unattended to, is great. He pulls out the George Martin-Beatles card with “Finally Over You,” and “Until I Get Her Back.” The melodies are pure Kevin, however. The vocal aria that opens “When Strangers Part” is keen. An artist that can initiate and carry through an entire production without the help of any outside influences or other player is rare, and in that regard and some others he reminds me of Todd Rundgren, another amazingly talented man.
There is lovely acoustic guitar work on songs like “Circling Winds,” delicate piano on “Shannon Elizabeth” and tight rhythm sections on more rocking songs like “While Heroes Cry.” He proves he is more than capable as a musician. Where he really excels though is in his knack for melody and the turn of a lyric. Words that make you think and connect directly to your inner soul, all while singing along.
A couple of bonuses are tacked on at the end with “Joytown” from Kevin’s first CD Thud, recorded live with Spock’s Beard’s Nick D’Vigilio on drums and Kevin’s incredible version of Led Zeppelin’s “Kashmir.”
“Childhood’s End” is probably the closest he gets to prog here, but you can’t let that stop you from sampling at least something from Kevin Gilbert. Fans of Todd Rundgren, Beatles, Genesis, Spock’s Beard would find this essential. A warning to the uninitiated, once you get hooked to this exceptional artist, you will not rest until you get through his entire catalog.
Reviewed by Terry Jackson on January 5th, 2010