Shouse – Alone On The Sun
Album: Alone On The Sun
Label: Independent Artist
Genre: Instrumental, Guitar Rock
Sounds Like: Joe Satriani, George Lynch, Eric Johnson
Technical Grade: 9/10
Production/Musicianship Grade: 9/10
Commercial Value: 7/10
Overall Talent Level: 10/10
Songwriting Skills: 10/10
Performance Skill: 10/10
Best Songs: The Arabian, Alone On The Sun, Dead In Memphis, For Alex
Strenghts: Musicianship, Instrumentation, Songwriting
CD Review by Wes Boyd:
Lexington, Kentucky guitarist Mike Shouse teams up with a group of studio musicians to bring you his 2010 full length CD “Alone On The Sun”. This is Shouse’s sophomore effort, following 2001’s “Enter The Soul”. Shouse is an accomplished guitarist of over 23 years and has made a name for himself as performer, teacher, and artist.
The CD opens with a corny knock-off of the old “Six Million Dollar Man” intro which, admittedly, set my expectations for the work to follow very, very low. Happily, I could not have been more wrong. I have long been a fan of Satriani, Vai, Johnson, and the like, and Shouse is a more than worthy entrant into the instrumentalist genre. If another G3 tour was announced today and Shouse’s name was on the bill, I would buy my ticket with full confidence of a phenomenal show.
Shouse’s backing musicians shift for nearly each song, but their musicianship is every bit up to the standard that Shouse sets for each piece and the CD maintains a seamless feel despite the changing cast. I especially like “The Arabian” as I can distinctly hear influences from George Lynch, to Queensrÿche, to Primus. Not many groups can pull off that sort of amalgamation and make it sound completely their own. There is also a take on the American folk song “Man Of Constant Sorrow” which introduces us to Shouse’s vocalist for this CD, Gene Booth. And let me tell you, Gene brings it in droves.
Each song is well written, thought out, and holds you to the end. A trained ear can tell the recording was done at a smaller independent studio, but overall the disc sounds great and I actually enjoy the independent studio sound. It’s very dynamic and not overly glossy like a lot of today’s releases. Mike’s guitar tone is dripping over with that signature Marshall tube warmth, the bass guitar is sonically huge, while clear and driving without being over bearing, and the drums are captured very, very well and spread across the stereo field in a very natural sounding manner. You’d be hard pressed to find a better sounding independent release.
It’s difficult to really find anything wrong with this CD. My only complaint, and with Shouse’s chops it’s not really a complaint, is that Gene is only featured on two songs. That guy has some serious pipes and I am going to have to see if he has any more work out there. Unfortunately, with all of this wonderful tone and musicianship, Shouse will probably find very little mainstream success in commercial rock and roll as the iPod listening masses out there have very little interest in musicianship of this caliber. I would not be surprised someday to learn of a large “underground” following of super-dedicated fans, but odds are you will never see Shouse in regular rotation on MTV…and in my opinion that is just fine. If you think bands like Nickleback, Kings Of Leon, or, Seether are great and pay top dollar to see them every time they roll through your town, you probably wouldn’t appreciate musicians at the level of Shouse and his collaborators. But if you long for the days of actual guitar hero’s Mike Shouse will not disappoint. “Alone On The Sun” is a very solidly written and recorded disc. Trust me, once you get passed the intro you are in for one hell of a guitar driven ride.