Artist: Michael Stanley
Album: And Then...
Label: Line Level
Release Date: 10/16/2015
A veteran of the ’70s radio wars and a time when album oriented rock was all the rage, Michael Stanley’s 40 plus years of making music — both on his own and in the company of his Michael Stanley Band — have found him doing due diligence, staying true to form and casting himself in the well worn garb of a journeyman rocker. If his new album And Then… is any indication, it all seems to come naturally, given the rowdy, arena ready, crowd-pleasing rockers that populate this disc. Indeed, songs such as “All Together Now,” “Radio Waves,” “Hang On To This Heart” and “Don’t Say Nothing” in particular sound like they’ve been in the ether forever, each of them chock full of ringing refrains and the prerequisite hooks that once ensured automatic radio play. It’s the kind of thing that ensures an audience sing-along with lighters and air guitars poised and ready to respond.
Then again, Stanley’s known to have a tender touch as well. When he turns his hand towards heartfelt ballads like “Good Day for the Blues,” “Long Ohio Winter,” “Circadian Rhythm,” “In Your Kiss”and “Sound of a Train,” it’s obvious that it’s his heart dictating the proceedings. The strains of sadness that reverberate through these ragged, weary melodies make as emphatic a connection as the rowdiest of his rockers.
While some musicians with a similar career trajectory might find themselves past their prime, it’s clear that Stanley’s sound remains as vital as ever, and if radio were ever to revert to its earlier stance — which found substance taking precedence over style — then his return to the airwaves would be a given. As it is, his releases have continued unabated and are well worth seeking out. The man’s a musical treasure, and it’s about time the rest of us offered our appreciation.
– Lee Zimmerman