Some singers could sing the phone book over a busy tone and still move me. Jeff Scott Soto is one of those singers. His powerful voice possesses a rich dose of melody, but also an almost soulful raw edge that makes him a perfect fit for the AOR records he is best known for. It was the Heavy Metal scene however – via Yngwie Malmsteen’s only worthwhile albums – that gained him his initial notoriety. I guess he wanted the edge back, because ‘Inside The Vertigo’ contains some of the heaviest guitar work he’s been involved with for quite some time.
With this being Jeff Scott Soto though, there’s still a lot of room for his amazing vocals and his trademark huge and catchy choruses. As a result, the album is most definitely heavy, but in the end comes across more as a modern Hard Rock album – or surprisingly heavy AOR, if you will – than the Heavy Metal the premise may suggest. Most of the riffs aren’t distinctive enough to stick to your mind; it’ll be the choruses you’ll remember. The most remarkable riff work is courtesy of Gus G on ‘Wrath’. Ironically, their collaboration on G’s solo album ‘I Am The Fire’ – a beautiful power ballad called ‘Summer Days’ – sounded more Soto than this.
The only problem with this album lies within the approach Jeff Scott Soto employs on most of his solo output. Equipping different songwriters and musicians on every song is almost a guarantee for inconsistency. He tackles part of the problem by going for the same direction in terms of production for the entire album and having his touring drummer Edu Caminato playing on the majority of the material, but one songwriter’s approach will always please the listener more than the other’s.
Most of the album consists of strong songs though. Both appearances by Soto’s touring guitarist Jorge Salán, the heavy stomper ‘Trance’ and the looser rocking closer ‘Fall To Pieces’, are incredibly good and the same goes for powerful, catchy Hard Rock songs as ‘The Fall’, ‘Jealousy’, ‘Break’ and opening track ‘Final Say’. ‘End Of Days’ grows from a dark ballad into an epic Heavy Metal tune. I just haven’t decided on the childrens’ choir yet, given that I hate childrens’ voices. Though less than usual, Soto of course also gets a chance to show what an expert he is at power ballads: ‘When I’m Older’ is a heartfelt, but sincere power ballad featuring Savatage guitar slinger Al Pitrelli.
‘Inside The Vertigo’ is another highly enjoyable album by one of the best singers the Rock scene has to offer these days – top 3, dare I say. In the end, I’d say I prefer the album’s predecessor ‘Damage Control’, but only by a hair. The best scenario would be a combination of both approaches in the future; a little heavy guitars here, a little keyboard laden gloss there. Jeff Scott Soto has proven time and time again that he is perfectly capable of both approaches. In fact, he’s not just capable of them, he’s an expert.
Recommended tracks: ‘Trance’, ‘The Fall’, ‘End Of Days’