It is an accurate statement to say that the American singer Jeff Scott Soto is one of the greatest rock vocalists of his generation and he has all of the statistics to back this up as he has been involved in some of the truly great rock albums as a member of seriously renowned bands like Sons Of Apollo, W.E.T’, Trans-Siberian Orchestra, Talisman, Journey, Axel Rudi Pell and Yngwie Malmsteen to name just a few and there are many more plus an incredible number of guest appearances too, the latest tally being around 85 albums which is an incredible feat.
Just try to imagine what it must be like to drop into a conversation the line ‘Oh yes, I used to be in Journey for a while’! I would dine out on that forever and it doesn’t matter one little bit than he didn’t cut an album with them as it is still way beyond cool. Added to all this is the not so little matter of his solo career although, confusingly, it either goes under the name of Jeff Scott Soto or SOTO and I might be wrong here but I get the feeling that he reserves the SOTO vehicle for his heavier material.
If we take SOTO out of the equation then Wide Awake (In Dreamland) is now his seventh solo album and his first since 2017’s Retribution and one of the major factors in his success is that he is so versatile as his voice suits so many genres so he is equally at home with AOR/melodic rock, metal and heavy rock. I believe his default setting is heavy melodic rock and this is the style that we see on his latest album and it is, of course, immediately recognisable for those who have followed his solo career path and he always gives his fans what they want to hear.
The album was recorded with Frontiers regular genius Alessandro Del Vecchio (Hardline/Jorn/Revolution Saints) and he was also heavily involved in the song writing process too. Sot’ is a truly masterful vocalist with the requisite power, range and sustain needed to stand out in this over crowded market and there are few indeed who can be considered his equal whether he is fronting a rock band in full flight or baring his soul on the most epic of power ballads and there are plenty of both hard hitting rockers and delightful and sublime ballads to savour on the album. He has put together another hard working and talented band for this album with Del Vecchio again showing his true value as he supplies bass, keyboards, guitar and backing vocals in the way that only he can. Fabrizio Sgattoni is immense on guitar with long time drummer Edu Cominato showing his usual class and August Zadra supplies backing vocals and lead guitar on Between The Lines. Jeff Scott Soto knows exactly how to deliver melodic and hard rock and he never disappoints with his voice which is so mellifluous and still sounds as strong and powerful as when he first set out on his career. There was never any doubt that this would be anything other than an exceptional melodic rock album that packs a mighty punch from an artist with a truly golden voice.
As an added bonus – as if it was really necessary – this album comes with a bonus disc featuring his live set recorded at the Frontiers Rock Festival in Milan on April 27th in 2019. This set was previously released only on the digital platforms in April 2020 and is a joyful stroll through his back catalogue and is beautifully recorded and a flawless performance to enjoy. Soto gives it everything and his band are with him every step with Edu Cominato on bass, DJ on keyboards and guitar and a truly breath taking performance on lead guitar from Leo Mancini. There is also a nice touch at the end as the band are finishing with a sing-along version of the Talisman track I’ll Be Waiting when Soto sees fellow-singer Dino Jelusick (Animal Drive/Trans-Siberian Orchestra) in the audience and gets him on stage with them both singing the albums closing track Stand Up which is from the movie Rock Star.
How can you not be delighted with this fantastic rock album? Not only Jeff Scott Soto’s new release but an excellent live album as well for free from a quite extraordinary and prodigious music legend.
Wide Awake (In My Dreamland) track list
- Someone To Love (3:33)
- Mystified (3:21)
- Love’s Blind (4:14)
- Without You (4:19)
- Lesson Of Love (4:35)
- Paper Wings (3:35)
- Love Will Find A Way (4:13)
- Between The Lines (4:16)
- Living In A Dream (3:50)
- Wide Awake (In My Dreamland) (4:20)
- Desperate (4:24)
- Drowning (4:24)
- 21st Century (3:32)
- Believe In Me (1:50)
- Look Inside Your Heart (2:36)
- Eyes Of Love (4:16)
- Band Intros (1:02)
- Soul Divine (4:17)
- Our Song (3:28)
- Holding On (5:45)
- I’ll Be Waiting (4:51)
- Stand Up (feat. Dino Jelusick) (5:03)