Shadowland

Michael Stanley

Line Level Music, 2010

http://www.michaelstanley.com

REVIEW BY: David Bowling

ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED: 02/12/2011

Michael Stanley, with a band and on his own, has been cranking out the tunes for close to forty years now. He has just released his 22nd album, Shadowland.

He was Midwest born and bred, and his music reflects those roots. His albums have sold moderately well on a national level, but his fan base is the strongest in his home, where he is recognized as a genuine mid-American rock superstar, and deservedly so.

His new album continues to reflect the values and mindset of industrial mid-America and its surroundings.  It is gritty rock combined with lyrics that tell stories that is American music to its core.

Stanley continues to be a triple threat as the songwriter of all the tracks, the lead vocalist, and guitarist. Other major contributors include guitarists Danny Powers, Marc Lee Shannon & Bobby Latina, keyboardist Bobby Penlander, drummer Tommy Dobeck, bassists Michael Gismondi & Eric Sosinski, percussionist Rodney Psyka, saxophonist Paul Christensen, and pedal steel guitarist Al Moss.  my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250

If you have followed his career, this new album breaks no new ground, but it does cover the old oh so well. If you have not been exposed to his music, you will find well-crafted and catchy rock ‘n’ roll.

The first three songs establish the fact that Michael Stanley is alive and well, and are a nice introduction to his music as they cover all the basics. “It’s All About Tonight” is what Midwest rock is all about as guitars and piano lay down a solid foundation. “I Am You” is the type of ballad which he is so good at crafting. It is rock at its most poignant. “My Brand New Day” is a mid-tempo rocker and covers the middle ground.

There are a number of excellent tracks. “Come On Down” is catchy rock with excellent harmonies. The sax solo by Al Moss is stunning. The title track is a harder edged rock tune as he turns his guitar playing skills loose. “How’s That Working Out For You” has a funky/R&B groove complete with brass and female background singers.

The best cut is the ballad, “Skinny Jeans.” The lyrics tell the story of love lost years before and the longing and regret that surface from a chance meeting.

Shadowland finds Michael Stanley doing what he does best, creating listenable and memorable music. Listening to the music contained here is an hour well spent.

“Come on down to the river and wash away your sins.”  Rock on, brother!

[Shadowland can be purchased at: www.itsaboutmusic.com]

Rating: A-

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© 2011 David Bowling 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 Line Level Music, and is used for informational purposes only.