John Elefante SunWith On My Way To The Sun Elefante's work is a musical gourmet's treat, with repeated listenings bringing out new flavors....

On My Way to the Sun
Artist: John Elefante
Kingheir Music
10 tracks 56:16

It's introspective without being moody or depressing, it's a little bit prog but without being pretentious, it's pop but it's not trite, arena-rock without the posturing, and as heavy as a mastodon but intelligent and passionate. All of that describes On My Way to the Sun, the new project by John Elefante - but you really have to hear it for yourself to see where it fits into your particular musical niche. Me, I'm a sucker for a good, classic rock sound with killer melodies - and Elefante is certainly a master at that.

A former member of the iconic band, Kansas, Elefante still has what it takes to turn out a multi-part eleven minute opus and keep it interesting, which he does on the album's opening track, "This is How the Story Goes," a self-propelled piece of music fueled by precision guitar and violin lines and packed with the emotion of Elefante's powerful vocal performance. The band gets to stretch out on some fiery instrumental sections that scream out for a live tour of this material (we're waiting, John). The elegance of the opening track gives way to the hard rocking "Where Have the Old Days Gone," then goes on to the more radio-friendly anthemic title track. In the space of the first three songs, Elefante has already covered a lot of ground, claiming a wide range of musical territory – and with more to come.

Elefante's work is a musical gourmet's treat, with repeated listenings bringing out new flavors. The discriminating ear will pick up not just the Kansas influence, but subtle hints of Billy Joel and certainly a strong after-taste of Beatles – substantial ingredients to be sure, yet Elefante's signature vocal style makes these songs distinctly his own. The lyrics deal not only with every-day life ("Where Have the Old Days Gone") but also major social/spiritual issues (the stunning "This Time") and Elefante's own boldly-delivered statements of faith. The end result is – and I say this at the risk of indulging in a reviewer's cliché – the artist's best work to date. More than any of his other musical accomplishments – including the Mastodon albums and his previous solo work – On My Way to the Sun defines Elefante as an artist and is a strong contender for being one of the best albums of the year.

"Don't Hide Away" bursts through the speakers with a riff and bass line that owes much to The Beatles' "Rain," with the singer rocking out commercially-viable rock and roll, paving the way for one of the album's most memorable moments...
On an album with many highlights, the song that perhaps lingers after everything else is done is "This Time," the powerful song that tells the story of a thirteen year-old girl about to get an abortion. The lyric tells the story dramatically, including God's point of view: "You're not taking this one - she's mine / She'll grow up to seek my name, you're not taking her this time, I decided before time began, her name is written in the book..."
The melody and chord structure support the lyrics powerfully, aided by George Martin-like strings, all in an effective heavy rock ballad style. Regardless of your point of view, the song is chill-inducing and timely. Elefante get the point across in "This Time" without sounding accusatory or condemning – not an easy task.

The powerful song precedes the album's closer, "Confess" - a praise and worship song for people who hate typical praise and worship songs. "The Awakening," and "We All Fall Short" manage to be explicitly Christian ("But we all fall short of the Glory of the Lord / And if we stand on the fence it's not a life we can afford / No better place to be than underneath His wings..."), and feature a special kind of majestic sound that Elefante is very good at creating.

All of this fine music was masterfully produced by John Elefante, who also wrote the words and music (with the exception of "This is How the Story Goes," which has lyrics co-written by Dino Elefante). The performances by all players is wonderful, with special kudos going to Kansas' violin-man, David Ragsdale, Dave Cleveland for fiery guitar work, Matthew Pearson for strong, melodic bass playing, and Dan Needham for fine, often Ringo-inspired drumming.

John Elefante finds the perfect balance of power and elegance on this project – intelligent rock and roll, gutsy praise, great instrumental work, plenty of hooks and powerful lyrics. Add to all this the artist's passionate solo vocals and rich, layered harmonies and you've got quite a stunning musical package. A really good way to spend the better part of an hour.

-Bert Saraco


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