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Kurt Michaels

Stones from the Garden

Review by Gary Hill

Kurt Michaels just keeps releasing cool albums. This new disc often bridges a gap between more mainstream rock and progressive. The opener in particular has a blues rock sort of thing at play. It almost seems as if the disc gets proggier with each successive song. There are number of guests here including Billy Sherwood and his brother the late Michael Sherwood. This might be the most diverse disc in Michaels' catalog.

This review is available in book (paperback and hardcover) form in Music Street Journal: 2023  Volume 3 More information and purchase links can be found at: garyhillauthor.com/Music-Street-Journal-2023.

Track by Track Review
Trouble
The opening on this has a mean, Americana kind of vibe to it. I'm reminded a little of something Frank Zappa might do for some reason. There is a blues rock angle to this, too. We do get some proggy angles in places, but overall this is more of a mainstream rocker with some quirky leanings.
Why Must Life Be Such A Fight
Dramatic, melodic prog sounds bring this one to life. This is still somewhat mainstream, but it does have a lot more progressive rock built into it. There are a number of twists and turns here. I really love the guitar solo section.
I’m In Love With That Dream
This comes in harder rocking, but still proggy and dramatic. It drops to a mellower section for the entrance of the vocals. There is a lot of magic built into it as it carries on and builds. There is a cool groove that comes in later that has a real 1970s pop rock vibe to it in a dreamy, soaring kind of way. This is a diverse and effective piece of music.
Relax...Nothing’s Under Control!
There is a funky, jazzy sort of groove to this piece as it starts. That jazz thing remains in a different way as it gets into the vocal movement. There are definitely some hints of psychedelia, too. The instrumental break on this has a lot of fusion in the mix. Female lead vocals take over for the closing portion of the piece.
Forever (So Completely)
Much more purely prog rock, this is fast paced and so cool. This is another that's dynamic, and it works quire well.
Happiness
A mid-tempo, melodic prog piece, this has plenty of pop rock and psychedelia built into it. It gets pretty powerful before it's over.
Will I Ever Pass This Way Again?
This isn't a huge change stylistically from the previous one. It gets quite soaring at times. There are also some great mellower sections on this. I can make out some Beatles-like elements on this at times, too.

 

The Road Beyond
The closer is a 17-minute epic. It begins tentatively. As it slowly rises upward it has a bit of spacey angle to it. Guitar paints waves of sound amidst a sea of textural elements. It gets quite dramatic as it continues to explore the sonic tapestry. There are definitely some signs of Hawkwind-like space at play. Echoey guitar emerges as the number drops to much mellower zones. That guitar climbs upward in waves. Spacey instrumental work holds this, growing ever so gradually. Spoken words come in right at the end to wrap things up.
 
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