Storm effects, wildly fluted bass, guitar and organ form the bed for the opener “Tempest” from Robby Steinhardt’s first solo album. Not in Kansas anymore. With Ian Anderson, Billy Cobham, Steve Morse, Ian Anderson, Patrick Moraz, to name just a few, Kansas fans have won an impressive who’s who of guests for a so-called “Prog Opera” with 11 songs, hope and starve . Unfortunately, we get this thick brew from the former Kansas singer and violinist posthumously.
Steinhardt died on July 17, 2021 at the age of 71, but his legacy lives on in classic Kansas songs like “Dust In The Wind”. on Not in Kansas anymore Steinhart, with his still strong, unmistakable singing, is just as central as his sweet, cutting violin work. The multi-layered prog sound here, which is mainly led through keyboards and Steinhardt’s violin and harmonies, makes for an excellent sounding record. I just wish I could say the lyrics are up to the job. In terms of the overall concept of caring for Mother Earth, storytelling is a bit mundane. But … here is the music.
The instrumental “Rise Of The Phoenix” offers both slow violin movements and keys as snapping wild drumming, with Deep Purple guitarist Steve Morse doing the rounds. It’s one of the better tunes here. “Prelude,” a mix of electric guitar, layered violin, and horns, quickly picks up some melodies from “Dust In The Wind” and leads us into this famous Kansas song. Lisa Fischer, who sang back-up vocals with the Rolling Stones for over 25 years, is the focus of this remake. Hearing Steinhardt’s famous harmony and that classic violin line, with a great jam at the end, certainly makes the melody the centerpiece of this album.
The title track is autobiographical, mostly inspired by Steinhardt’s time in Kansas, how he put this album together and where he was hoping to go. Another Prog vortex of great play, deep light and shadow, this song makes the listener wonder what Robby Steinhardt would have given us from that point on if he hadn’t left us so early. if Not in Kansas anymore is his last word, you can comfort yourself knowing that he was in a good place with his music.
~ Ralph Greco, Jr.