Kurt has been involved in the music scene for quite some years, even opening up for The Syn for some dates back in 2006 and recorded an album with the assistance of Billy Sherwood (Yes), his brother Michael Sherwood (Sammy Davis Jr, Monkees & Toto) and Tom Brislin (Yes, Meatloaf & Kansas). His band served as Denny Laine’s (Moody Blues/Paul McCartney & Wings) back-up band for several Chicago area shows in 2015-2017 and opened concerts for Carl Palmer, The Babys, Ike Willis (Frank Zappa) and Carl Verheyen (Supertramp). The recording sessions for ‘Stones From The Garden’ began in 2018 and once again include special guests Billy & Michael Sherwood, along with Amanda Lehmann (Steve Hackett), John Abbey (John Cale) and Dennis Johnson (Chase, Survivor & Dennis DeYoung). It comprises seven songs which range between 4:23 and 7:30 in length, and then he allows himself to stretch his wings with the closer “The Road Beyond” which is 17 minutes long. There must have been some internal debate for label boss Nick Katona as to whether to release this on MRR, which is what he did, or sister label Peacock Sunrise Records as this is very much a crossover album in that it takes influences from multiple areas, including melodic rock, prog, Americana and others, so much so that it doesn’t really fit in any of them. When it kicked off with “Trouble” I was immediately taken by Kurt’s vocals and the impression that he had been massively influenced by Nick Cave, but there are other times where it sounds as if psychedelia is what drives him. For a guitarist he is more than happy to keep himself in the background, providing gentle backing for his wonderful voice and then providing some nicely delicate leads when the time is right. It is an album full of depth, there really is plenty here to discover and enjoy. But just when one feels they understand what is going on we get to the final track, “The Road Beyond”. Here we find Kurt going in a very different direction as no longer do we have a song as such, but an instrumental workout which provides a solid symphonic backdrop, allowing us to journey along with him. If the whole album was like this then we would be talking about a solid prog release as that is what we have here, but the rest of the material only hints at his major interests in this area and having this at the end is perfect placement. It allows us to listen to this as a singular entity and then revisit the rest of the album again to understand better what we can hear between the words. Reflective while never falling into easy listening or New Age, this shows a very different side to Michaels. It has taken 10 years for Kurt to release a new album, and this in itself took five years to record, so let us hope next one comes along somewhat more quickly.ProgtectorOctober 2023