As with “Prism,” Frontiers Records has released Jeff Scott Soto’s “Lost In The Translation” in a luxury edition package with five added bonus tracks. For the AOR fan, this is simply icing on a cake of the sweetest degree, as unlike “Prism,” “Lost In The Translation” is a fantastic album.
The album opens with the catchy-as-hell lead single “Believe In Me.” Originally written for the SOUL SIRKUS project, “Believe In Me” features the famous Neal Schon on guitar, which unsurprisingly leads to a very JOURNEY-like sound. The song seems to have a limitless amount of hooks; it’s a prime example of what constitutes a classic AOR song.
While I’ve always been impressed with JSS’ vocal abilities, I’ve felt that he’s always been at his best when his backing band isn’t just limited to a piano and an acoustic guitar. “Lost In The Translation” features a very full band sound; JSS’ bandmates spend just as much time in the spotlight as he does. Naturally, this has resulted in a shift in the band’s overall sound, creating a very different type of JSS album, and it’s all for the better.
Excluding the happy-go-lucky “Believe In Me,” “Lost In The Translation” is a very dark, heavy album. Crunchy, metallic guitar riffs abound, and many of the songs focus as heavily on virtuoso musicianship as they do on JSS’ vocal melodies. Even from “Soul Divine,” the second song in, everything seems harder, punchier, and just generally better. Howie Simon adds so much to the album with his strong guitarwork, and for once it’s prominently displayed rather than focusing so much on the vocals.
Rather than having one heavier song for every five ballads, as on “Prism,” “Lost In The Translation” features nearly the opposite arrangement. Ballads appear at just the right time, calming things down for a short while before things get crazy again. Ironically, the ballads on “Lost In The Translation” are even better than the ones on “Prism.”
All of the bonus tracks included in this edition are ballads, of which “As I Do 2 U” and “This Ain’t The Love” are the best. “Turned The Page” sounds like an EXTREME-styled acoustic song in the vein of “Hole Hearted,” and while the original version of “Soul Divine” is wonderful, the acoustic version is not, as it appears to be a demo of exceptionally rough quality.
“Lost In The Translation” is an album that shows Jeff Scott Soto at his most energetic. While it’s still a safe bet for AOR fans with familiarly catchy material like “Believe In Me” and the ballads, it will also appeal to fans of harder, heavier Melodic Metal. The songs are well written and well sung, as they always have been, but this release added the one thing JSS was always missing: more prominent participation from his backing band. With a full, complete band sound complementing JSS’ wonderful melodies, it’s clear that “Lost In The Translation” is a classic of the Melodic Rock genre.
(Online February 28, 2009)