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Non-Prog CD Reviews

Ed Kowalczyk


Review by Mark Johnson

Ed Kowalczyk has been the vocalist and a major driving force in the band Live since 1991’s Mental Jewelry. Live achieved major status as a band with the release of Throwing Copper, in 1994, which propelled them into such hot concerts as Peter Gabriel’s WOMAD, Woodstock ’94, and MTV’s 120 Minutes tours. After four more successful albums and over 20 million albums sold worldwide, the band has taken a hiatus so that members can work on solo projects. Chad Taylor, Patrick Dahlheimer, and Chad Gracey went on to form the Gracious Few with Kevin Martin and Sean Hennessy of Candlebox. Their album is due out this September. Kowalczyk decided to record and produce his first solo album, which I will be reviewing here.

This is an excellent album. It’s full of inspirational lyrics and music that is just as fun to dance to as it is to listen to and remember the message being delivered. This should keep fans of the band Live happy until they get to hear the rest of the band on the Gracious Few’s album in September. If you like fast moving, inspirational music, this is your ticket this year. The lyrics and message are powerful and they are perfectly supported with guitar and drums. This album is a great start for Kowalczyk on his solo excursion. You can tell he had a lot of lyrics and emotions bottled up for which he needed an outlet. I look forward to his next album and recommend this one highly for anyone who is a fan of Live or just great rock and roll with a message.

This review is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: 2010  Volume 4 at

Track by Track Review

Slow fused guitar, drums and Kowalczyk’s vocals open this one slowly and quietly. “Headed out into my desert. / All alone and thirsty for something more.” Then like a slingshot, that famous Live roar of vocals coupled with guitar and drum thunder.“Like a child falling asleep at the wheel of my life / And letting you drive / I’m letting you drive.” Live’s lyrics have always been a major part of their sound and identity, and Ed has always played a role in delivering these messages clearly. This is a cool song about trusting someone else to do the driving in your life. It can be interpreted many ways. But allowing a higher power to help give your life more direction and balance in the right direction is the way I like to see it. “Handing over the keys / Close my eyes and letting you drive.”  This is a perfect opener with a strong message that this album will not only rock but hopefully also inspire.

The Great Beyond
This starts with a cool thumping drum beat with guitar riffs flowing in unison. “Oh why don’t it make you cry? / Without surrender we will never find our way.” The powerful lyrics and message really drive this one, along with revving guitar riffs which shred the air. The drums never miss a beat.
“Grace” is the first single and one of the most powerful songs on the album. Potent bass and warm guitars open this one before Kowalczyk and the drums enter the soundscape. “Is there any love at all / Every saint used to be a sinner / Every man used to be a child.” Then we get the powerful punch line as Kowalczyk’s voice rises to deliver, “You said it was all inside my mind / You were wrong, there was grace / You saw the enemy / I saw your face / People like you and I spin through space/ You were wrong, I still have faith.” The power of the guitar riffs on this one are stellar. The drums keep perfect time with the power of this piece.
Heavy drums and racing guitars open this along with Kowalczyk. “It was impossible to see the angel that was staring at me / If you could stand tall with me /What are we fighting for? / We have to believe / It was setting us up for more / So much more than we could know was waiting just down the road / If you could stand tall with me.” These are powerful lyrics that can be interpreted in many ways. “Will I be the one to rise above / Lord am I strong enough?” This one delivers on the excitement that has been building in the first three songs and it feels like you have reached the top of a mountain as the power climbs from the guitars and drums. This is an amazingly powerful tune.
Drink (Everlasting Love)
We get cool keys and guitar riffs as the tempo slows. When you’re in the right place, it just shines through in every way. The lyrics are so powerful and are very inspirational. The drums and guitars are solid in support of Kowalczyk’s vocal prowess.
Another of the better songs on an album, this is full of the vocal supremacy of the lyrics. “Take me on up to Zion where my Lord will comfort me / He will lay me down by the still water while my enemies will run from me.”  It almost sounds like a spiritual with the backing vocals. The powerful guitar licks and drums fill this one with fire power all its own. 
In Your Light
Drums and guitars open this message of thanks. “All I have given you I give again / You are my mountain my high place to climb / Let me take you where the music and laughter never cease.” Again we get power and praise filled with inspiration from all sides with guitar and drum support.
Just In Time
Guitar and drums setthe drama as the song opens. “Still want to write those words that light your mind and lead your heart to me / Like a baby only sees the light after he’s been born.” Inspirational lyrics and vocals lift the song and the listener’s mood. “I’m gonna bring you water / I’m gonna bring you wine…shelter from the storm”
This starts with the sounds of a busy street in Rome. Then cool drums and guitar enter before Kowalczyk takes off. The power of the message and delivery can be felt everywhere. This is one lead singer who needs to sing and sing loud. His inspiration shines through.
Soul Whispers
“Soul Whispers” is the best song on the album. “The song of my soul is sweet/ I waited for soul whispers telling me to be strong.” There is incredible inspiration here put to words and music. The guitar and drums are perfect giving support to Kowalczyk’s delivery of this powerful message. 
Fire on the Mountain
Cool slow acoustic and lead electric plot a course, with the drums in support. “Just when we thought the light had gone it shows it’s self again / The purest love you’ll know / All I need I believe / What I want I can see / The fire on the mountain is calling me home.” Despite adversity, the ability to see through the darkness to the exit and the light is presented here. This is power in word and sound.
Eat Your Love
A cool guitar riff starts and then those running drums pick up pace to close the album. “I met a girl and she was talking about the end of the world.” The musicianship on this one is excellent. It’s much more instrumental and at times it really rockets past Kowalczyk’s vocals. It’s a powerful closer.
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