Jeff Scott Soto has a long and distinguished career that just keeps getting better. First coming to the forefront as Yngwie Malmsteen’s vocalist on the albums Rising Force and Marching Out, Soto went on to sing for Talisman, Journey, Trans-Siberian Orchestra and his own band, W.E.T (Work of Art and Eclipse). His most recent gig has been frontman for the prog-metal supergroup Sons Of Apollo, who released their debut Psychotic Symphony 3 years ago and MMXX early this year. On top of all that, he’s put out a number of solo records since 1994 and now has another one entitled Wide Awake (In My Dreamland) out to cap off the year (providing he doesn’t squeeze something else out before December 31).
“Someone To Love” harkens back to Soto’s Yngwie days with its soaring vocals amidst a wonderfully melodic guitar wall behind him. “Mystified” jumps even further back into the ‘80s, minus Soto’s vocals the instrumental could easily be taken off a Joe Satriani or Michael Angelo Batio solo record. “Love’s Blind” lands far more on the prog side of things with tinges of Dream Theater here and there, while the ballad “Without You” summons those epic, huge arena choruses and reiterates Soto’s versatility across various genres. “Lesson Of Love” is a colourful showcase of Soto’s vocal power, as is “Paper Wings”, a straight shot of old-school metal.
“Love Will Find A Way” mixes things up again with its Extreme-esque funk-metal groove and guitar work; it’s not a stretch to say Nuno Bettencourt doing a guest solo here would have taken this track to another level. “Between The Lines” adds more balladry to Dreamland, once more chock-full of glorious harmonies and basically sounding like an even tastier version of Whitesnake’s power ballads (“Here I Go Again”, “Is This Love”). “Living In A Dream” pivots off of this dynamic and lets the guitars run wonderfully wild while “Wide Awake (In My Dreamland)” is far more of a controlled, heavy crunch. Finally there’s “Desperate”, a strong and massive finish to stay the least that encompasses all of the many twists, turns and elements of the record and drops it all in one conclusive scorching blast.
It’s great to see that touring being put on the back burner hasn’t stopped an artist as skillful as Jeff Scott Soto from producing something as rock-solid as this record. The reach across several subgenres of rock and metal that Soto exemplifies across Dreamland, along with his to transition between heavy and soft dynamics without losing strength speaks (literal) volumes to his sheer amount of skill, backed up all the more by his distinguished resume. Through and through it’s another feather in Soto’s cap, one that gives all indication that Soto won’t be coming off of his peak and disappearing any time soon.