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MUSIC REVIEW: JEFF SCOTT SOTO – Wide Awake (In My Dreamland)

| 2 December 2020 | Reply

Label: Frontiers Music s.r.l.

Release Date: November 6, 2020

Rating: 100%

Reviewer: Todd “Toddstar” Jolicoeur

Anyone that follows or reads my reviews and interviews knows I am a full on JSS fan boy.  There isn’t a project he gets involved in that I don’t scoop up and digest immediately.  The same is to said about all of his solo material.  I recently spoke to Jeff regarding the latest solo disc and am now getting around to my review of this eleven track release.  Disc opener “Someone To Love” is a solid track from start to finish and has all the nuances JSS fans have come to expect, know, and love.  The soaring vocals, thick harmonies, and chugging riffs that decorate the landscape of his biggest hits are here in all their melodic rock glory.  “Mystified” is another solid song that has all the components of a great JSS track, but seems to drag a slightly darker and heavier sound into the mix, as if it was too poppy for his SOTO project, but fit the mode of this collection.  The layered vocals through the chorus add depth to the track.  Be sure to check out the solo on the bridge.  The thumping bass and guitars on this track take me back to a lot of Soto’s work with Talisman sonically.  “Without You” slows the pace to deliver the discs first ballad, which Jeff has seemingly perfected with each new release.  TO hear him tell it, the credit belongs to producer / writer / instrumentalist Alessandro Del Vecchio.  If that is the case, I hope these two keep coming together and creating more power ballads like this, as well as the other material.  Be sure to check out the layered vocals and listen to the guitar / vocal duet that plays throughout the track.  “Paper Wings” is one of the songs that perfectly pulls together the various sounds and genres from the JSS catalog.  With melodic rock at the forefront, there are prog nuances, heavier rock textures, and the voice that binds them, we get a song that screams to be heard and demands the attention it deserves.  This one has the most unusual bridge of any of the tracks.  “Between The Lines” is another power ballad that reflects the writing of the duo as well as the powerful musical accompaniment from Del Vecchio.  The added lead guitar work from August Zadra adds a slightly different dimension to the song sonically, as he stamps his own sound into the familiar mix.  Disc closer “Desperate” has a heavier sound swirled into the mix with the searing melodic guitar solos and the rock solid vocals from JSS.  The vibe of this song takes a slight turn form a lot of the disc, but fits the mood and vibe of the disc overall.  The growth on this collection is never more present than on this track.

“Love’s Blind” comes at you from the first note and keeps the tempo and energy up until the sound fades.  The vocal runs from Soto helps elevate this song without sounding overdone or overproduced.  The music is tight, but as with a lot of Soto’s material, Edu Cominato’s drumming leads the charge and keeps this track grounded without dragging it down.  “Lesson Of Love” is a song I come back to time and time again, thanks to Fabrizio Sgattoni’s searing riffs, the solid bottom end, and mostly the vocals.  The shift from mild ballad-like vocals to rock powerhouse and back again throughout the track demonstrates not only Soto’s command of the material, but the power and flexibility of his vocals.  This song is proof positive of how he can cover so many genres and different types of music.  “Love Will Find A Way” has a sound and groove that lends itself to any of JSS’ solo records.  There is something in the sound that has a crisp feel to it that let’s us know its new, but the different components of the song musically give it a familiar vibe that we have heard on his solo discs as far back as 2002’s Prism.  The upper range of his vocals that are layered in the chorus sound show how strong his voice is after nearly 40 years in the industry.  “Living In A Dream” builds on the sound that Soto has spent time cultivating over the years and adds depth and punch to the overall groove.  This is another track that pulls from his back catalog sonically while sounding modern.  The cadence is killer and keeps the song moving underneath the vocals.  This is a great track that marries the different eras of Soto’s solo material.  Title track “Wide Awake (In My Dreamland)” is the most diverse track on the collection both sonically and vocally.  There seems to be a heavier vibe that hangs over the of song while the musical accompaniment trudges along from open to close and the vocals have an darker emotional delivery to them without coming off as too heavy or not quite right to fit within the scope of the other tracks.  The common thread is the guitar sound and most importantly the vocals that Soto brings to the musical party.  While I know he plans on curtailing most touring moving forward, the good news is there seems to be no stopping or dip in the quality of Soto’s solo offerings!

Tracklisting: Someone To Love – Mystified – Love’s Blind – Without You – Lesson Of Love – Paper Wings – Love Will Find A Way – Between The Lines – Living In A Dream – Wide Awake (In My Dreamland) – Desperate

Lineup: Jeff Scott Soto (vocals) – Alessandro Del Vecchio (bass, keys, guitars) – Fabrizio Sgattoni (guitars) – Edu Cominato (drums) – August Zadra (lead guitar on “Between The Lines”)






Category: CD Reviews

About the Author ()

ToddStar - that's me... just a rocking accountant who had dreams of being a rock star. I get to do the next best thing to rocking the globe - I get to take pictures of the lucky ones that do. I love to shoot all genres of music and different types of performers. If it is related to music, I love to photograph it. I get to shoot and hang with not only some of my friends and idols, but some of the coolest people around today.

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