Robby Steinhardt – Not In Kansas Anymore

Posted: 301121

Review Erik Neuteboom

After leaving Kansas finally (1973-1982 and 1997–2006) Robby slowly starts to work on a solo project, mid-summer 2021 the album entitled Not in Kansas Anymore was finished. Robby heard the final test pressing and pronounced it to his liking, and approved the cover. He also began pulling together a band to take it on the road. But Robby got severe health problems, and suddenly died on July 17th, due to the complications of pancreatitis, at the age of 71. So this Robby Steinhardt solo album has been released posthumously, it features many guest appearances, like Ian Anderson, Steve Morse, former Toto singer Bobby Kimball, Rolling Stones touring keyboardist Chuck Leavell, Pat Travers, Billy Joel drummer Liberty DeVitto, former Rolling Stones backing singer Lisa Fischer and acclaimed jazz drummer Bill Cobham.

I needed a few listening sessions to get into this album but gradually I started to appreciate the music more and more. To me the 11 tracks sound well crafted, varied, and are performed by excellent and experienced musicians.

A fair amount sounds as song oriented melodic rock. Truth to Power (Only Truth Can Change The World)  is embellished with powerful work on organ, violin and guitar, and topped with pleasant vocals. Mother Earth (Is Calling You) features classical violin, fiery guitar and sparkling piano. The Phoenix contains strong vocals, dynamic, lots of shifting moods, excellent interplay and awesome work on guitar, violin and synthesizer, fuelled by dynamic rhythm-section. And the track Not in Kansas Anymore sounds like “AOR meets Heavy Prog”, embellished with classical violin, heavy guitar work, a flashy synthesizer solo and Hammond waves.

Also featured is a serie of ‘instrumentals’, variety rules. The short opener Tempest delivers a cheerful jazzrock oriented climate with powerful bass runs, guitar and violin, in a mid-tempo, and excellent interplay. Rise of the Phoenix (Climb to Grace) is loaded with strong musical ideas and surprising twists and turns: from an intro with melancholical violin and strings and halfway a break with a pitchbend driven synthesizer solo and heavy guitar duel to a wonderful conclusion featuring melancholical violin and powerful drums. Prelude starts with melancholical classical violin, then a fiery guitar solo and a brass sound, in a mid-tempo. Pizzacotto (A Slice for Baby Boy Flynn) alternates between chamber music and folk (embellished with harpsichord, Mellotron flute, and violin), halfway a surprising accellaration with tin-whistle, violin, acoustic guitar and the distinctive flute traverse by Ian Anderson, an inspired contribution. And in the beautifully build up bonus track A Prayer for Peace Robby shines on his violin, with a strong emotional undertone, blended with female choir sound and moving electric guitar, very intense and compelling.

The other two tracks are also worth to mention.

In this new version of Dust In the Wind Robby succeeds to keep the soul of the song but also adds a special flavour. He has replaced the folky twanging acoustic guitars by sparkling piano, presents halfway a surprising break with an intense violin solo, piano runs, and fiery guitar leads, and ends with gospel-like singing, an impressive rendition of this Kansas classic!

Downtown Royalty shifst between dreamy and bombastic, embellished with classical violin,, vocal harmonies, slide guitar and strong male and female duo vocals, another example of Robby his tasteful eclectic musical approach.