Thursday, November 2, 2017

Album Review: Jeff Scott Soto - Retribution

Timing can be everything. The right records needs to find the right ears at the right time, or else even the best of music can fall by the wayside. There's no way to know when the right time is, but there are definitely wrong times. To my ears, it's wrong to release cold and depressing albums during the summer months. What's harder to conclude is what to do when a musician has multiple bands with material ready at the same time. That's what Jeff Scott Soto is dealing with, as this album comes mere weeks after the release of an album from his newest band, Sons Of Apollo. Is that strategy going to get more ears on this release, or will the comparison between the two turn more people off? It's hard to say, but it lingers behind this album.

I say that because, with a hand in the songwriting of both albums, it can be questioned if Soto was writing too many songs in too short a period of time, should they not all hit their mark. That was the first thought I had when I heard the single, "Inside Outside", which immediately struck me as not being a strong enough song for that platform. The chorus of the song simply isn't very memorable, and Soto's rough vocals, combined with the production and mixing, make the track sound like a demo, and not a final product.

On the other hand, the opening title track is far better, with Soto's voice more in line with the deeper Paul Stanley tones he often gives off, and a chorus that hits the sweet spot of melodic rock/metal. That song would have been a far better showcase prior to the album's release. But that's just me.

As the album carries on, I get the same feeling from it that I did from the Sons Of Apollo record; Soto has plenty of ability to write and sing a great song, but he doesn't do it often enough. For every hooky song, there's one that falls completely flat. It makes listening to the record difficult, as bouncing back and forth between really good and not so great tracks is less satisfying than having an entire album of merely good songs.

"Retribution" is an album that has plenty of 80s appeal in its sound, and that's a fitting way of thinking about it. If this record was released in 1988, it has the three or four singles that could have made people believe and buy the album, while the rest of the album was made up of fillers that wouldn't matter once people had already made their purchase. But today, when most albums are able to be extensively previewed before determining if they're worth investing in, I just don't hear enough from it.

Soto has talent, and a ballad like "Feels Like Forever" is something I can fully get behind, but the record as a whole doesn't maintain a level. It's not a bad record, but Soto has in the span of a month released two records that are both half really good and half not so much. It makes me wonder what either project would have sounded like if he was able to take the best melodies from both albums and combine them. That's not what we've got here, so I can only judge what we do have. That's "Retribution", which is a forgettable record, I have to say.

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