Complete 15 song album offered until January 2017 for free online download
with additional content and special guest artists
"There's something on the album for just about anyone.." says Kramer, who, in spite of some challenging health concerns over the past two years, has been able to craft a strong, energetic concept album where the mixing of styles showcases strong performances from a multi-talented line-up of fellow musical cohorts Gregory Hyde on drums, guitar and background vocals, Mike Levin who delivers a stunning performance on saxophone, and returning master guitarist Jimmy Ryan. The album also features violinist Edgar Gabriel on the title track and Chris Hyde on guitar.
Commenting on the backwards "logic" of releasing an album a track at a time rather than all at once, Kramer acknowledges that while the album took longer to produce, it gave each song a chance to get heard and appreciated one track at a time, instead of the traditional method of hurry-up-and-download into a playlist. "I did it all backwards...'thats the "shadow logic" of it.." he quips, adding that with the music industry having shifted away from CD's and towards digital downloading, todays' standard method of promoting an artist has really returned to the single song philosophy, but says it lacks the intimacy of the way people used to listen to albums.
"I wanted each song to stand on its' own, to give each track a chance to breathe and allow people to take their time..everyone's in such a hurry today..I did it in chapter form, sort of like the way you'd read a book or watch episodes of a tv series." Mentioning the vast range of styles, Kramer states the songs are all different and meant to touch a variety of emotions and moods. "Just Another Piano Man" is RK telling his own version of life as a "local Billy Joel" at a piano bar he performs at on weekends. Gregory Hyde, recording engineer, drummer, guitarist and "straw-boss" whose other hats worn include background vocals and some very funny drunk person dialog on the track.
"The first time I heard Greg doing his slurred drunken banter, it made me recall the dozens of "inebriated patron song requests" at my piano bar...and yes, someone DID actually ask me for an OPERA song one night..you never know what a drunk person will ask you for.." Kramer teamed up with Hyde on the first single off the album "Strange Times" in 2014 and the two have been working together since then to complete the album.
The latest single "The Rhythm Of The Thing" is a brass-driven, danceable powerhouse with an incredible performance delivered by Mike Levin, whos' dexterity on sax sends this cut over the top. "He definitely brought his A-Game on this track.." mentions Greg.
Other tracks include the Jimmy Buffet-like "The Place They Call New Orleans", an instant classic written about Kramers' recent trip to "The Big Easy" in May for the ZMR New Age Music Awards event. "Honesty", a power rocker features the nimble fingers of long-time friend and musical cohort Jimmy Ryan of the Flyin Ryan Bros fame. Ryan has appeared on numerous projects going back decades, and continues to be a strong influence on how Kramer writes. "Sometimes I will write a song that just has Jimmy automatically embedded in it, so I'll call him up and say I've got another one thats just so you..."
The title tune, "Shadow Logic", a prog-rock flavored song, features electric violinist Edgar Gabriel, who masterful flourishes give the track a "Jean-Luc Ponty-ish" flurry of dizzying string passages. As a special promotion, all 15 songs, (with classic rock album cover art showing the weird reflection of a shadow of a dog on a moonlit street designed by Barry Kukes), will be made available for free download until January 2nd, 2017.
All selections are now available on the Touchtunes digital jukebox system in the US & Canada.
Q & A w Robert Kramer
Q: First, what is the idea behind the title, Shadow Logic"?
RK: I wanted to create an ongoing musical story for people to relate to, in much the same way as we read books or watch episodes of tv shows. Todays idea of releasing an album is so rushed and hurried. There is no unfolding or gradual appreciation of each song in a concept album anymore like there used to be. The Beatles "Sgt Pepper", Pink Floyds' "The Wall", The Who with "Tommy". Everyone is in such a hurry today to download, stick it on an ipad or phone, it goes into a digital playlist and its over before anyone has a chance to get behind it.
Q: You're saying the digital age has had a negative impact in the way artists and musicians create. They spend huge sums of money recording an entire project, stick it on iTunes, and it gets sterilized by the hurried consumerism of the digital single track 99c download.
RK: Right. There's no drama, no build-up, no time to take a breath and slow down to digest music anymore. You can't appreciate Van Gogh or Mozart on a cellphone. Art was meant to be pondered over and thought about. Of course, much of todays music isn't terribly "cerebral", so there's really not much to miss. It's fast, loud, auto-tuned and the dynamics of the sound have been crushed out of it. There's not very much "music" in music today.
Q: Every once in awhile, a good track gets thru....
RK: But that's the exception, rather than the rule. There's also a serious lack of good writing and good understanding of composition. It's all fast and loud and arrogant. That's why there are no more classic rock bands on major labels. First off, noone will sign them. Most of the real creativity takes place in the indie world today. Why do you think all the tv and movies are using music from 20-30 years ago? It's because you don't have good songwriters. Today, anyone with a laptop and a Protools rig fancies themselves a record producer. Technology has become an enemy of popular music rather than a saviour. It's ruined the popular music industry. I'm glad that I'm an indie. The pay isn't as good, but you get to keep your soul.
Q: There are some very diverse musical paths on this new album....EDM, reggae, straight rock, classic ballads, and neo-prog. Was that intentional?
RK: Very much so. Music has become very genre-locked. We have all jazz stations, all hip-hop, all blues, all metal. The only genre that even seems to be daring anything near crossover is new country music.
Q: Some call it the "new rock.."
RK: It's got a long way to go to reach that tag in my mind. Everything is auto-tuned and pitch-corrected today! I mean, c'mon, can't anyone actually SING and PLAY anymore? Like I said, there are a few tunes that squeak thru today that are "ok", but there is no artist identity to the music anymore. People are worried about looking good and putting out attitude, but the emotion and dynamic of music has been squashed clean out of the music industry today.
Q: What song would you say on this album comes closest to where your head is at in this stage of your life and career?
RK: If I had to admit to it, I'd say "These Are The Times". It's a slow power ballad rocker with an actual guitar solo and real drums!
Q: You call it a "Sarah McLaughlin/Pink Floyd" mash-up.
RK: Yeah..(laughs) I'd love to hear Gilmour and McLaughlin do a duet on it...!
Q: Why that song though as to where you are at?
RK: It represents having to say goodbye to something you know you'll have to leave behind someday.
Q: The present becomes the past...
RK: Yeah, it does. Time just seems to give you no choice except one. You HAVE to move on, or be doomed to live in the past. I've decided forward is my only direction.
Q: Could that be a comment on the current state of music today? How it's stuck in it's own mega-popstar mindset?
RK: Quite definitely, but the song is actually more personal to me than a political blanket statement on the industry. It's the last phase of realizing its time to let go and move forward, something most of the songs on the album have something to do with one way or another.
Q: "Honesty". The straight rocker. Is it about truth?
RK: It's more about people who are dishonest with themselves. That leads to dis-honesty with others that cross their path. They fake their way thru relationships, not only personal, but all kinds. I had them in my bands. People who said one thing but couldnt back it up with action and dedication.
Q: Work is a dirty word to some musicians.
RK: Its really just about ego and lazyness. They think the world should beat a path to their door just because they're a musician. You have to be good enough to grow up first and learn to work with people. Life doesn't mean you always get to be the star attraction. Noone does it on their own. We have forgotten that as a world. We need each other to make it work. I've put in a lot to do what I love, and if I get that million dollar check tomorow, it won't cover half of the time I put in up to this very minute to get all of this music done and out there to share with people. But I do it because I love it, and because it is who I am. Yes, I want to earn a living too, but that comes after you dedicate yourself to being consistent and having persistence enough.
Q: Thats why there are so many out there that fail...
RK: They don't fail because they're not talented. The world is up to it's neck in talent. There's a lot of great talent out there. But very few understand that talent alone doesn't cut it. You have to keep flapping your wings if you want to stay aloft. Even the biggest bird will go down if it stops flying.