Walsh, Steve - Glossolalia

Year of Release: 2000
Label: Magna Carta
Catalog Number: MA 9043-2
Format: CD
Total Time: 60:12:00

Steve Walsh has said about the recording of this album, "I'm baptizing myself. I've been in a bad way for a long time - some 30 years. Anger has been a great motivator to me. Getting motivated from other sources has been very enlightening experience." The tracks on this album were written over a period of several years. Peter Morticelli of Magna Carta phoned Walsh and later introduced him to Trent Gardner. "Trent asked if I had material and I had 22 songs hanging around," Walsh says. "Trent learned seven of them, and his arrangements took them to a higher level."

I find Steve Walsh's latest solo release, Glossolalia, mostly successful. The production on it sounds great and there are some great performances, no less Steve Walsh's vocals, which are simply terrific here. Though, as energetic as "Heart Attack" is, it seems no different than blustery, bluesy sexist rock to me. Suddenly I think of Tom Cruise's character in Magnolia. Especially in contrast to the sober (pun intended) "Serious Wreckage," which includes a sonic nod to his other gig, Kansas. Whether intentional or coincidence, there are phrases of the chorus that have the same cadence and meter as the bridge of "Hopelessly Human." (from "It's a strange situation..." to "...if nothing was said" in the latter). Of course, given that it's Walsh's vocals on both, the similarities aren't that surprising.

Speaking of Kansas, another stand out track is "Kansas," though the string and brass bits are mixed a bit too high for me (mostly keys I'm guessing, though Magellan man Trent Gardner has brought along his trombone for this outing). The vocal effects at the end of this track after the chaotic chatter that lies just under discernability, are a little annoying only as they go on a bit too long - less is more. But the epic and soaring latter part is beautiful and very symphonic.

The title track starts out chunky, becomes atmospheric for the verses, and then switches to a metal groove for the chorus, not unlike Dream Theater actually. It's mostly atmospheric though, and just becomes chaotic for the fade. As elsewhere, the lyrics tackle Native American themes. The title itself is a Native American reference to "speaking in tongue," which certainly applies to the last bit.

The through-line of "Serious Wreckage" is how driving under the influence (and really any self-destructive behavior) doesn't just affect the individual but those around him, known or not. The theme is a based around the protagonist striking and killing a child. Strong stuff, as the memory of it is haunting. Haven't yet concluded whether this is my favourite on the album, because there are few others that might also qualify.

"Nothing" is the low-key ballad, acoustic and steel guitar, and voice, quite nice. Which is followed by "Haunted Man," which in a way covers the same theme of being nothing without their loved one. There's a middle section to "Haunted..." that is quite Rush like, and perhaps the only time where Trent Gardner's presence is strongly felt. In other words, there isn't really a time where this sounds like a Magellan release. Now, I like Magellan, so I say that not as a dig against Gardner and company, but because it means that more of Walsh's "voice" comes through.

The longest track is the 10-minute plus "Smackin' The Clowns." Whether the entire tale is biographical, I can't say, but Walsh looks back at a circus tragedy - whether metaphorical or literal (or both) - and how it signaled a change. Of course, metaphorically, it is that "putting away childish things" type reference, and accepting adulthood. On one level, at least. There's one part in the lyrics, where Walsh sings, "I went to clown college and Jumpy went to Nam/ he wrote me a letter before he got wasted - he caught that napalm bomb/ now I put on my white face and I sing my silly song/ but the good times have come." Some times the whole circus that is entertainment seems ... insignificant when contrasted against other life choices - or paths. It's funny, because on my first several listens, I kept thinking Walsh sounded like someone else here, and it isn't until now that the name pops into my head - Don Henley. The second level, this is commentary on the changing economic times - though things are getting better in some spots, in others they aren't, and are getting worse.

"Mascara Tears" is a slow building, bluesy, nightclub like tune. Walsh's vocal performance here is wonderful, making this one of the highlight tracks here. Although there is a string arrangement, it does have the feeling of vocalist and pianist only on a smoky stage. And there are But there are rockers that work, "That's What Love's All About" being one of them, which truly harks back to the 70's. "Rebecca," based on the Hitchcock movie of the same name, is a dark, gospel-like tune and closes the album.

Glossolalia (5:20) / Serious Wreckage (6:01) / Heart Attack (4:18) / Kansas (9:00) / Nothing (3:08) / Haunted Man (5:35) / Smackin' The Clowns (10:05) / That's What Love Is All About (5:05) / Mascara Tears (7:05) / Rebecca (5:15)

Steve Walsh - vocals and keyboards
Trent Gardner - keyboards and trombone
Virgil Donati - drums
Page Waldrop - steel and acoustic guitars
Jim Roberts - Hammond organ
Mike Slamer - guitar
Billy Greer - bass
Wayne Gardner, David Manion, and Steve Brownlow - additional musicians


Streets First (1982)
Crimes In Mind (1984)


Schemer Dreamer (1979)
Glossolalia (2000)
Shadowman (2005)


Kansas (1974)
Song For America (1975)
Masque (1975/2001)
Leftoverture (1976/2001)
Point of Know Return (1977)
Two For The Show (1978)
Monolith (1979)
Audio Visions (1980)
Vinyl Confessions (1982)
Drastic Measures (1983)
The Best Of Kansas (1984)
Power (1986)
In The Spirit Of Things (1988)
Carry On (compilation) (1990)
Live at the Whisky (1992)
Box Set (1994)
Freaks Of Nature (1995)
Always Never The Same (1998)
King Biscuit Flower Hour Presents Kansas (1998)
Best Of Kansas (altered re-release) (1999)
Somewhere To Elsewhere (2000)
The Ultimate Kansas (2002)
Device - Voice - Drum (2002)
Sail On: The 30th Anniversary Collection 1974-2004 (2004)

Device Voice Drum (2002) (DVD)

Genre: Progressive Rock

Origin US

Added: September 11th 2000
Reviewer: Stephanie Sollow
Artist website: www.stevewalsh.com
Hits: 1098
Language: english


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