Bobby Kimball - We’re not in Kansas Anymore

Bobby Kimball We’re not in Kansas Anymore cover
Bobby Kimball
We’re not in Kansas Anymore
Purple Pyramid Records
Bobby Kimball is obviously a very well-known powerhouse of a vocalist, responsible for some amazing vocals in more than a dozen Toto albums among other things, which include a series of “solo” albums, most of which are “tributes” (Toto, Ray Charles etc) and two of which, this one inclusive are “real” studio projects with original songs.
The style and vocals of Kimball are unmistakable – his doric but soulful delivery over some rather daring funky rock beats is unmistakable and his reteaming with producer John Zaika, and stellar performances by drummer Joel Taylor, keyboardist Derek Sherinian (Dream Theater, Black Country), Mitchel Forman among others, make this an album that doesn’t lack in performance terms throughout… but what about the songs themselves I hear you ask…
“Too Far Behind” is a funky and soulful jam that ain’t got a bad chorus, but feel a little indecisive when it comes to focusing on a particular direction, keeping the same lazy beat for most of the duration, be it verse, solo or whatnot.
“On My Feet” is also fleet on its feet with some funky swagger, but this time sounds a lot more focused, with a glorious, big band sort of chorus, complete with “horns” (probably sampled) and all those little “things” people love about Bobby’s voice displayed amply.
“Hey, it’s Me” sounds like someone took a hint from “Mario”, but it’s a darker, swankier and still funky as hell number that makes up for the lack of a convincing chorus with remaining swift throughout.
“One Day” sees both the introduction of Jonny Zywiciel as a guest vocalist and a shift into soul/AOR territory, with some nice flute flourishes and a ridiculously good vocal performance by Kimball, who’s really dominant here.
“Flatline” is modern flavored AOR, with a touch of funk that seems to be a theme that runs throughout the entire album, these funky bass arrangements. It’s quirky and doesn’t tire but I’m guessing the chorus could have been a little more special, instead of sounding like another “verse”.
“Met Her For” is a softer number, with more dueting vocals between Dave Barnett and BK and while I thought that this would turn into a ballad, proper, with vocals being this “loud”, the conventional “ballad” definition goes out of the window; soft rocker, with super passionate, maybe even a little over the top vocals, is what I could come up with. I mean how upfront BK’s vocal is, did annoy me a bit, as it doesn’t ruin the mix, but dominates it so much that it really makes the rest of the performances take a back seat…
“Hold On” is similar, but thankfully Bobby’s voice, strong and doric as it might be, is more reserved and feels in balance with the arrangement; the nice Queen-esque solo is also another highpoint and the whole track is “easy” to like, with no clings in its armor.
“Scam” I thought was a pretty negative word for a title and I was intrigued, about this one. It’s intro is playful without being exactly “funky”, but more “urban” and “cinematic” with smooth vocals antagonizing a far louder Kimball, but while the whole thing builds and builds; there’s no proper release with the chorus, being lost in a bridge “verse”… sadly another opportunity missed.
“You’ll Be with Me” is the closest thing one could consider being a “ballad”. Piano laden and soft, other than Bobby’s “loud” vocals, here, I don’t think his voice is too loud, but the orchestration too “spartan”, which is a bit of a letdown, as this is a great track, but it sounds like a very expensive demo, but a demo nonetheless.
“Some They Do” is going back to the funk-rock roots, groovy and “horny” again, a little underwhelming chorus-wise, but a lot more appealing than the couple of songs earlier on, that go down the super-fly highway…
Lastly, “You’re Not Alone” manages to get the balance of vocals and music just right and delivers a beautiful and glorious number with a positive tone and message.
While it plays on its strengths, “We’re Not in Kansas Anymore” suffers in a couple of places, from either a lack of convincing choruses and an obnoxiously loud vocal mix. Where it gets things “right”, it’s really super-cool, but that’s not always the case, leading to the album feeling akin to a mixed bag of chips, when it comes down to it…