Sound — 7
William Shatner has had a prestigious acting career. He has starred in many roles on television and in cinema throughout his six decades in the business, but the one he will forever be synonymous with is his role as Captain James Tiberius Kirk in the original "Star Trek" television and film series. In the 1970s when "Star Trek" established a cult following in the United States, Shatner became a media icon. Some people took their fan following to an extreme level; Shatner refused to go to fan conventions throughout the course of a decade following an incident where a group of fans attempted to rip his clothes off as he was leaving 30 Rockefeller Plaza in the late '60s. The original television series would go on to be subject to continuous reruns on science fiction channels, and the films continue to be something for fans of the genre to sit in awe of. Outside of his acting career, William Shatner began to try his hand in the music world starting as early as 1968. His album "The Transformed Man" was comprised of combinations of the music by such artists as The Beatles and Bob Dylan with the poetry of such works as "Hamlet" and "Romeo and Juliet," and performed using Shatner's now infamous dramatic spoken word style. He remarkably relaunched his musical career in 2011 with his third studio album "Seeking Major Tom," which had William Shatner partnering up with an impressive list of talent, including Ritchie Blackmore, Peter Frampton, Zakk Wylde, Michael Schenker, Alan Parsons and Ian Paice. The album showed William Shatner giving his own take on such space-themed rock classics as "Space Odyssey" by David Bowie, "Space Truckin'" by Deep Purple, and Pink Floyd's "Learning to Fly." This album proved to be a substantial commercial success for Shatner, with "Seeking Major Tom" reaching #1 on the Billboard Heatseekers Chart. Probably considering this noticeable success, William Shatner went back into the studio to work on a follow-up, which is the recently released "Ponder the Mystery." Just as he did for his last studio effort, Shatner has recruited another impressive cast of guest musicians, such as The Clash's Mick Jones, Steve Vai, and Edgar Winter. This time William Shatner is moving into a new musical frontier: progressive rock. Described by Shatner himself as "Quite possibly the most creative thing I have ever done," this is his first album where he created all of his own lyrics. No cover songs on this one, only original music from a cast of talent featuring new lyrics straight from the mind of Captain Kirk.
Lyrics — 8
Another thing that William Shatner does differently is that "Ponder the Mystery" is actually a concept album. A more personal musical journey from Shatner, it has the famed actor who took so many voyages into space on screen sitting back, looking up at the stars and wondering what really exists out there. In "Where Does Time Go?", Shatner looks back through his career and ends up falling in a deep depression about the agony of aging. Whereas in "Alive," Shanter discovers and focuses upon the joy of life. Now, set these lyrics to the compositional wizardry of Steve Vai and executed with the dramatic stops and emphasis of Shatner's lyrical delivery, and you have one captivating listening experience.
Overall Impression — 8
William Shatner delivers a consistently enjoyable, original and captivating performance on his fourth studio album, "Ponder the Mystery." Between the strong musicianship provided by the long list of guest musicians, to the classic lyrical delivery of Shatner and original storyline, this is one studio album that comes highly recommended not just to fans of the musicians who make guest appearances, and not only fans of Shatner's acting career, but any progressive rock follower.