Released by: Frontiers Records
Release Date: November 10th, 2017
Genre: Melodic Hard Rock
Jeff Scott Soto – Vocals, Keyboards
Howie Simon – Guitar & Bass (except on “Reign Again” and “Song For Joey”)
Edu Cominato – Drums
August Zadra – Guitar on “Reign Again”
Stephen Sturm – Guitar on “Reign Again”
Carlos Costa – Bass on “Reign Again”
Paul Mendonca – Guitar, Keyboards & Bass on “Song For Joey”
1- Retribution 2- Inside/Outside
3- Rage Of The Year
4- Reign Again
5- Feels Like Forever
6- Last Time
7- Bullet For My Baby
8- Song For Joey
10- Dedicate To You
Jeff Scott Soto is a performer that has built a lasting career on releasing top notch music, no matter what genre he decides to give a shot. From his early days singing with Yngwie Malmsteen, to his most recent projects SOTO and Sons of Apollo, you could pretty well take it to the bank that whatever he was putting his golden voice on, it was guaranteed to be stellar (OK, maybe I’ll disregard Redlist, but it wasn’t bad because of him.) His chameleon-like abilities to adapt to whatever project he was working on from the Neo-Classical Metal of Malmsteen to the funky and soulful melodic hard rock of Talisman to the modern hard rock style of SOTO is his most notable characteristic, he has also demonstrated his abilities as a songwriter. Despite “spreading himself” to many projects whether as the main focal point or a backing performer, he has never over-stayed his welcome. In fact, he still remains as one of the hidden gems in the Hard Rock and Metal world. When he took over the vocals for Journey, I’d hoped that this would be his moment to stand out on a bigger stage shining a light on his tremendous talent and sending folks to his other stuff. As we already know that didn’t pan out, but it didn’t damper Soto’s desire to create music thankfully.
Much like Ray Alder last year, Jeff has the chance to wind up holding two spots in my Top 5 of the year. One could be the brilliant Prog Metal super group Sons of Apollo’s Psychotic Symphony, out now, and the other may very well go to his brand new solo album, his first since 2012, entitled Retribution. I knew going in that the chances were damn good I was going to be blown away by the album. Without a doubt, JSS is my favorite singer, and I’ve been a fan since his early days, so yeah I can be a bit biased. Having said that this is album is outstanding. With understated yet beautiful ballads like “Feels Like Forever” to his brilliantly melodic funky stuff like “Inside Outside” to the tender “Song For Joey” to even a straight forward hard rocker like “Bullet For My Baby” that sort of melds what he’s doing with SOTO into something that hearkens back to 80’s hard rock, Retribution is one of his strongest and most consistent. For someone that does so much musically, this is one of his most focused releases to date, never veering too far away from just being a straight forward kick ass melodic hard rock album that he has built his amazing career on.
If I’m being honest, this hasn’t been near as strong a year for me musically as 2016 was. Perhaps its my own loss of that fire to write and check out new music or maybe it’s just there hasn’t been a good string of releases. I’m typically generous with my ratings (I never know what to give so I tend to err on the higher side than lower.) Maybe I’m just easy to please, or maybe I tend to hone in more on the albums/artists I like naturally, and focus my writing attention on those. I don’t know, but I do know this: Jeff Scott Soto’s new solo album Retribution is some of his best work. I don’t feel like I’m saying that as a fan either, but as a music lover in general. The fact is, Jeff could sing the phone book and make it enjoyable, but this is by far one of his most mature and personal solo albums I believe he has recorded, and will hopefully get a wide audience for it.
Written by: Chris Martin