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Ghost Canyon

Title - 'Sing For The Day!'
Artist - Tommy Shaw and Contemporary Youth Orchestra

For those not in the immediate know, Tommy Shaw is an American guitarist, singer, songwriter, and performer best known for his work with the rock band Styx.

In between his stints with Styx, he has played with other groups including Damn Yankees, Shaw Blades as well as releasing several solo albums.

Sing For The Day! showcases the Styx guitarist/vocalist's rousing 2016 solo turn with the Cleveland-based Contemporary Youth Orchestra, under the direction of principal conductor/founder Liza Grossman.

Alongside guitarist/musical director Will Evankovich and backed by the next generation of the finest high-school-aged musicians in Ohio, Shaw also celebrates the tenth anniversary of Styx's triumphant 2006 One With Everything performance with the CYO.

Here, the CYO & Chorus bring new life to many classic band and solo tracks in front of an enthusiastic audience at the intimate Waetjen Auditorium in Cleveland, including "Blue Collar Man," "Girls With Guns," "High Enough," "Too Much Time on My Hands," "Crystal Ball" (featuring the debut of its never-recorded lost verse), and most especially "Renegade," highlighted by an epic guitar/violin duel between Shaw and a noted CYO alum.

"It was so much bigger and more everlasting than any of us imagined it would be," Shaw has since revealed, and listening to it (twice through now), I have to agree that the way it comes together is as impressive a musical feat as I've encountered in the past few years, that's for damn yankee sure!

1. "Overture"
2. "Girls With Guns"
3. "Too Much Time On My Hands"
4. "Fooling Yourself"
5. "Diamond"
6. "Crystal Ball"
7. "Boat On The River"
8. "Sing For The Day"
9. "Renegade"
10. "Man In The Wilderness"
11. "Come Again"
12. "High Enough"
13. "Blue Collar Man"

For me, a pairing of Tommy Shaw alongside the Contemporary Youth Orchestra, a Cleveland, Ohio consortium led by Liza Grossman (which is also the only youth orchestra in the United States devoting to performing contemporary orchestral scores), just seems like (especially upon listening to - twice now) something that should have happened well before now.

As for the finished product, well, as you could only expect, this 13 track CD (which is also released as a DVD and Blu-ray via Eagle Rock), is a right royal gem of a musical experience. Showcasing the best of Styx, albeit now through new, youthful, dedicated to their instruments ensemble, Sing For The Day! is a monster of a joyous recording.

As anyone who has seen Styx live recently can eagerly attest to, Shaw's vocals haven't changed much at all over the decades, nor his looks, if we're getting into all this, and the man still plays a guitar quite like no other.

The opening "Overture" (off their latest album release, The Mission) is the most perfect intro to what's to come and that's backed by simply stunning renditions of both solo and Styx tracks. For a rare live outing of Shaw's "Girls With Guns" (from his 1984 debut solo album) is, if not for me alone, a right royal beauty to hear "live" here.

After a couple of Styx monsters - "Too Much Time On My Hands" and "Fooling Yourself" - Shaw dips back into The Mission for "Diamond," which in turn is backed by another lovely touch in "Crystal Ball" (which not only marked the recording debut of new guitarist Shaw to Styx, but here features the "live" debut of a never-recorded lost verse!)

"Boat on the River" is next (from Styx's 1979 album Cornerstone), and that's followed by the title track, "Sing for the Day," which was originally the second single that Styx released from the album Pieces of Eight (1978). The colossal, and sounding so sweet now with the backing of the CYO, "Renegade" is next and is backed by the rarely heard "Man In The Wilderness."

Shaw's solo cut from 1990 "Come Again" is then followed by the Damn Yankees' magnificent-to-hear-like-this "High Enough.' The album then rounds out with a stunningly flawless "Blue Collar Man," and as the music and voices fade away from the CD, you will most likely do what I did and reopen the CD case, in hopes of a second disc of much the same music!

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