With ambiguity encompassing the future of his previous chart-topping band, Kevin Max continues to build an identity on his own. In 2001, Max released his first project on his own, the unique, genre-bending project Stereotype Be. Since touring the album, Kevin has released independent poetry material and an EP that, despite demo-quality production, offered some edgier songs and his best material to date. Since relocating to L.A., teaming with former Prayer Chain guitarist Andy Prickett, and finding a new label home with Northern Records, a new side of Kevin is displayed with his sophomore solo release The Imposter.
Upon hearing the opening guitar riff of the soul-baring "Confessional Booth," it's clear The Imposter has a more accessible rock foundation. Max and Prickett draw the record's musical influences from U2, Jeff Buckley, and Blur, blending modern sounds with moderate 80's sensibilities. His lyrical honesty on The Imposter is even sometimes brutally honest. This album is also much more introspective, with Max examining himself through many of the songs. The lead-off track declares, "If the truth didn't hurt so much, I wouldn't lie... / I take back everything I said / That ever caused you pain or stress / I take it back just like that / I take it back just like that." The title track follows, a synth-sprinkled pop love anthem that has Max acknowledging wrongs he's done and a new leaf he desires to turn over. "Sanctuary," the album's first single, is a worshipful rock song that was born out of his feelings of homelessness and the security he longs to find in Heaven.
Kevin Max's poetic lyrics and beautiful and unique vocals are the real charm of his music. "Your Beautiful Mind" is a sensitive, piano-driven imagined conversation debating Creation between him and an atheist friend of his. The song is written thoughtfully, creating one of the most memorable moments on the album. Max's versatility is exemplified by the following track, the electronic-glazed "Jumpstart Your Electric Heart!" and the sensitive "Platform." The former addresses relationships while the latter has Max asking God in the prayerfully written song's chorus, "Why'd did you choose me when you knew I wasn't tough enough? / Why'd you send me when you knew I would run? / Why'd you put me in the places that I didn't want / Why'd you call me when you knew I'd hang up? // Oh my God, can I feel Your hand? / I need direction, a place to land..." "The Royal Path of Life" is yet another of the many album highlights that bears an infectious classic rock feel.
Kevin Max has taken quite some time between projects and it has proven effective for the artist. The Imposter is the perfect example of a long-awaited sophomore album that not only delivers in more ways than one, but bests the artist's previous work. Even if Max may never team-up with his former bandmates again, remaining solely on his own, he's proven his worth with each solo effort he's devoted his time. I'm excited to see where Kevin's music goes from here... I just hope we don't have to wait quite as long between releases!- Review date: 10/9/05, written by John DiBiase
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