Native Window review by Native Window

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  • Released: Jun 23, 2009
  • Sound: 6
  • Lyrics: 8
  • Overall Impression: 7
  • Reviewer's score: 7 Good
  • Users' score: 6.3 (7 votes)
Native Window: Native Window
0

Sound — 6
For fans of Carry On My Wayward Sun or Dust in the Wind, news that Kansas members Phil Ehart (drums), Richard Williams (guitar), David Ragsdale (violin), and Billy Greer (bass/vocals) would be forming a side project sounded promising. Native Window is a distinct, separate venture from anything Kansas has done in the past, a fact that isn't shocking considering that primary songwriters (Steve Walsh and Kerry Livgren) are notably absent. Although there are brief moments that recall the epic recordings from back in 1970s, the vast majority of songs on Native Windows' debut album are unfortunately a disappointment. Apparently the members made an effort to sound nothing like Kansas, and it's true that no one can accuse them of creating a carbon copy of their past records. There's nothing wrong with stripping down one's sound, which is precisely what Native Window has done, but there still needs to be traits within the songwriting that draw the listener in and keep their attention. In this case, the driving force in the 10-track album is violinist Ragsdale, who manages to enliven the lackluster moments. From the traditionally grand into of Money to his experimental approach in Got To Get Out Of This Town, Ragsdale's parts take you back to all the great moments of Kansas. When the violin takes a break and lets the synth, guitar, and bass take the spotlight, things to tend to lean toward the duller side. Money, Surrender, and The Moment simply aren't engaging enough and tend to be your run-of-the-mill adult contemporary tracks. Native Window does try out a few styles during the CD, revisiting the blues in Blood in the Water and trying their hand at balladry in The Light of Day. Interestingly enough, it's the ballad that makes the biggest impression because it sounds the most heartfelt and isn't saturated by unnecessary production work. It might not match the poignancy of Dust in the Wind, but The Light of Day is absolutely a beautifully written song.

Lyrics — 8
There is an overall positive message to Native Window's music, between the idealistic philosophy of Money and the never-let-them-get-you-down approach to Still (We Will Go On). A wide variety of people (besides the band itself) are given writing credits in the liner notes, so that helps to keep the word construction fresh. Some might be leery of a band that isn't able to write all of its own material, but it's not necessarily a detriment to the CD.

Overall Impression — 7
If you're expecting any semblance of Kansas in the new group Native Window, you'll feel a little shortchanged. Granted, Ragsdale still delivers some of the most unusual and creative approaches to violin the rock world, and he is utilized quite often on the CD. Billy Greer may not be able to hit as many awe-inspiring notes as Steve Walsh, but vocally he still does a solid job. There is no question the quartet features competent musicians, but the songwriting simply is not doing them justice at this point.

7 comments sorted by best / new / date

    nexteyenate
    that's really unfortunate that this cd ended up sucking. I was really looking forward to it. I am a huge fan of kansas and have seen them live five times in the past two years.
    Silenced7
    I'm sorry, but this review is terrible. You cannot compare this band to Kansas just because the old band members made this band! Seriously, I don't base Stone Sour's quality of albums on what Slipknot did (as an example), because if I did, I would give Stone Sour shitty reviews on every album because they aren't as hardcore nu-metal. This is ridiculous. Posting my own review after I listen.
    Green View
    Personally I really like this CD. It doesn't sound like Kansas because it isn't Kansas -- just members of Kansas. This is a great melodic rock record. The songwriting is not supposed to compare to Kansas. With that said I think this is a solid effort. Billy Greer's voice is great and the musicianship of the band members is flawless. It's a fresh and new direction for these musicians and is a lot of fun to listen to. I think it worth a listen!!
    bbb2449
    You know the funny part about " Billy Greer " not hitting the awe inspiring notes that walsh hits, is the fact that Billy Greer currently sings all the HIGH "awe inspiring notes" that walsh can't hit haha. . . get ur facts right. Also, the other subject you touch on is the fact that this isnt a KANSAS album ..... blah blah blah. Ur right, thats what this band was trying to do . . . GET AWAY from KANSAS and creat a sound that is different!! Check out their myspace.com/nativewindow and judge this for yourself, not from some dumb a** that is stuck in the past
    herbi61
    I agree totally with bbb2449. As much as Walsh was an awesome singer in the 70's and 80's he hasn't had a voice since 1987!! He should have handed the singing mantle to Billy Greer 20 years ago!! and anyone who knows anything about Kansas, knows that Greer sings the high parts in the live shows, so the "awe inspiring notes" comment by the reviewer was a bit of an own goal!! This album isnt kansas yet there are nuances of kansas there. This is a good solid album, I really enjoyed it and they are a great bunch of musicians who frankly needed to crawl out from under the shadow of Steve Walsh or suffocate!! Greer is currently a superior vocalist to Walsh