Line Level 2015
Heartland rock hero in search of a surprise and an around-the-clock delight.
Cleveland troubadour Stanley has been in upbeat mood, carefully sidelining melancholy, since 2011’s "The Hang", yet “And Then…” is one of the veteran’s most effervescent offerings. Save for the cover of STORYVILLE’s “Good Day For The Blues” – whose contradictory refrain speaks volumes – dozen originals come as extrovert as it gets, but while the “there’s too much me and not enough us” sentiment of the tight “Radio Waves” rejects loneliness on a lyrical level, “All Together Now” set things in motion with the most soulful sway, Philly-style.
As if to contrast the heat, “Long Ohio Winter” displays a stately balladry, and “Circadian Rhythm” is a quest for a spark in a routine, whereas “Don’t Say Nothing” rides a hip-shaking riff. Still, with sweet organ-oiled funk bubbling under “Shifting Gears” which trades urgency for seductiveness, the slowed-down roll leads to the album’s title track for a mellow pining to land on a wonder of the chorus. It’s unexpected and unknown things that intrigue the most, and it’s this ability to surprise that lures the listener to Michael Stanley’s songs again and again.