Released: 2004, Frontiers Records/Atenzia Records
Reviewer: Anders Sandvall
This EP is the first taste of what we can expect from Jeff Scott Soto on the new album LOST IN THE TRANSLATION that’s going to be released later this year. Soto started out as a singer in 1984 when he was eighteen years old and the singer in guitar legend Yngwie J. Malmsteen’s band. Since then he’s been with acts like Tahara, Talisman, Axel Rudi Pell, Kuni and Eyes. He’s also done numerous background vocals on several albums and he’s done soundtracks to movies like “Rock Star” and “Queen of the Damned”. Soto released his solo debut in 1994 called LOVE PARADE on which he co-wrote, produced and played almost every instrument himself. His next solo album was called PRISM and got stunning reviews from both the media and the fans. A tour through Europe followed and his appearance on the Gods Festival in England turned into a live album and a DVD which was released in 2003.
Soto met Neal Schon (Journey, Bad English) during NAMM 03 and they were joined by Deen Castronovo (Journey, Ozzy Osbourne) on drums and Marco Mendoza (Whitesnake) on bass to start a new band. At this moment I haven’t got any info on what they’re doing right now. The first sample of what Jeff and Neal have written is featured on this EP and on the forthcoming album.
BEILIEVE IN ME contains five tracks and one video for “Believe In Me.” That song is featured twice on the single, but the other songs are not going to be on the album. Soto and his old friend and bandmate George Bernahrdt co-wrote “Lonely Shade Of Blue.” Soto and Ricky Philips (Bad English, The Babys, Styx) co-wrote “Still Be Loving You.” The other two songs were written by Soto with former Talisman drummer Jamie Borger and guitar player Göran Elmquist.
Soto has been influenced in his singing style by legends such as Glenn Hughes, Ronnie James Dio, Steve Perry, Prince and Freddie Mercury. He can sing everything from melodic rock to R&B to heavy metal and melodic hard rock. Soto is definitely one of the leading frontmen in melodic rock in addition to his entertaining abilities. The man has an incredible vocal capacity and a very broad range. He’s very hard to beat behind the mic. Unfortunately, I haven’t gotten the name of the producer, but whoever did it the music sounds like a typical melodic hard rock/heavy melodic rock production do.
The first song is “Believe In Me” and that track sounds a bit like Journey. Maybe that’s because Schon co-wrote it. The sharp guitars and lead vocals dominate the soundscape and the song finishes with a heavy guitar solo. “As I Do 2 U” has big hit-potential and in this slow ballad Soto’s voice really sounds it’s best. In “This Ain’t The Love” the tempo slows down to an almost totally acoustic ballad. This feels a bit too slow and nothing really happens through the song, but it has a really sing-along friendly chorus with Soto at the top of the mix. “Lonely Shade Of Blue” is an up tempo ballad and also sounds much like Journey. Soto uses a saxophone in the middle and it sounds really good. The sax gives the song more depth I think. “Still Be Loving You” is the last track of this preview EP, and just by looking at the title you’ll see that this is another ballad. Once again they have used acoustic guitar and some strings. I hear some Latin-American music influences in this not so inspiring song.
This is not a bad sneak preview at all, but do I have to say it again? There must be other things to bring up and write about than love. I think that Soto could have put some faster melodic hard rock tracks on the album too because there are too many ballads for my taste. But the song that’s taken from the album sounds promising and it’s also my favorite track on the EP.
I think you should buy Soto’s new album if you want to hear something from a man with one of the best voices in the melodic hard rock genre or if you already a fan of Soto. This EP is a necessary item to have when you’re counting down the days in waiting for the new album that’s been scheduled to be released late in September.