Friday, March 16, 2012

JEFF SCOTT SOTO: "Damage Control"

Rating: 7/10

Label: Frontiers 2012

Review by: Urban "Wally" Wallstrom

JSS, Jeff Scott Soto, the bloke upfront, powerhouse vocalist, U.S. Swede, the metal version of Terence Trent D'Arby? There are many different ways to describe the former member of Yngwie Malmsteen, Journey, Talisman, Eyes, Takara, Soul SirkUS, etc. Me? I'd say he's a dou**e. I spent my childhood disliking him for hooking up with my crush and favourite Swede girl/woman as a kid, Tone Norum, and yeah, she's the one singing, 'hey, can't you stay'.

All jokes aside (I pretend to like him now as the memories hurt too much otherwise. LOL! No, seriously. I'm in pain), after plus 25 years in the business, you pretty much know what to expect from this all American singer. It's a very professional packaging and everything on, "Damage Control", speak volume of experience and a certain class. From the moment JSS decided to take some time off from touring, other gigs, sessions and various contributions, it's been more or less a controlled chaos to get this album together.

There are twentysix musicians from three continents involved (members of Y&T, Kamelot, Treat, Night Ranger, etc.) and they all do their part without ever stepping into the spotlight of JSS. Some of the tracks on display: The title track sparks like a radioactive cat in the dark. Very much the early Talisman sound, the mere hint of funk, and the odd reference to another US singer with capitol letters, JLT (or JOLT aka Joe Lynn Turner of Rainbow and Deep Purple). "If I Never Let Her Go", a neat poppy power rock song and borderline cheesy to be honest. "Die A Little" reeks of 1986 and the pure AOR sound of the era. And no, that's certainly not a neagtive mark in my book, quite the opposite really. Great stuff.

To my surprise, "Tears That I Cry", as well as most other tracks are true to the power pop and melodic rock sound. I sort of expected something else as this singer was never afraid to embrace and involve the funky/groovy stuff as we know, and much of 'Damage Control' is a pretty straight forward melodic hardrock affair. Starting out with a couple of notes of classic soul/blues piano, "Bonafide", quickly becomes yet another fine soft rocker with lines such as "wearing my heart on my sleeve". And even though if "Krazy World" flirts with the Jean Beauvoir, Prince, D'Arby, sound, it's still very much a melodic rock tune. "Afterworld" does sound like something Talisman could have done in the past (RIP Marcel).

I'm told the deluxe version holds three bonus tracks (not on my copy) where 'Take U Down' is a personal fave according to JSS. Final verdict: On the one hand, big, catchy rock. On the other, a tad too safe and predictable at times. Nontheless, overall a solid effort and a very safe purchase for the JSS and melodic rock fan.

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