added: 25 Oct 2012
// release date: 22 Oct 2012 // label: Frontiers
reviewer: Andy Snipper
I would say that there are only a handful of guitarists that could pull off an album of guitar leads – Jeff Beck is definitely one and Joe Satriani another and the third would be Neal Schon.
He has linked up here with Jan Hammer (alumni of both Jeff Beck and another virtuos John McLaughlin), his bandmate from Journey Steve Smith and Igor Len on piano.
My immediate reaction was pretty negative – huge amounts of Jazz-Rock fusion twiddling and a total lack of melody but by the time I got to ‘Six String Waltz’ I was hearing the songwriting and it was becoming clear that Schon is not just a great soloist but he has a real ear for a huge and vaulting sound – positively anthemic in scale.
‘Irish Field’ changes the mood completely – a light Celtic lilt underpinning the multi-tracked guitars and a delightful touch of mist about the number but then it is back to the heaviosity on ‘Back Smash’.
He suggests Eastern influences with electric sitar on ‘Fifty Six’ and then gives the listener a fully overblown ballad on ‘True Emotion’. Thankfully ‘Primal Surge’ gets the ear working again and the Vietnamese style percussion against a melodic guitar line is one of the highlights on the album.
The closer is ‘Song Of The Wind II’ and he channels his inner Santana to pretty good effect.
It isn’t the album I would choose to take to my grave but it is a set of excellent guitar pieces that reward regular listening and he is one hell of a guitarist.
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