Jeff Scott Soto is a world class singer, performer, and entertainer, there is simply no denying that. His body of work stretches back over 30 years with many different bands and artists. Don’t worry I’m not gonna rattle them all off or we’d be here for two days. For the past few years though, Mr. Soto has been very, very busy. In 2017 we got his album Retribution along with Psychotic Symphony from the megaband SONS OF APOLLO that he is the singer for. An extensive tour followed that one and I was lucky enough to catch it here in Philly. So here in 2019 comes Origami, (out now, InsideOut Music) the third release from his band SOTO.
I know, this guy never stops working, right? Well, I for one am very happy about that because anytime JSS puts out new music I am always running to check it out. That said, I wasn’t all that wild about 2016’s Divak album. It was just too dark and alternative rock-sounding in some places. That’s not to say there wasn’t good music on there, because of course there was. But with Origami you can hear a stylistic shift that features more melody and hooks while sacrificing none of the modern heavy touches, because make no mistake this record has got big brass balls and it’s not afraid to show them.
Opener “HyperMania” possesses easily one of my favorite choruses of 2019, and is Top 5 for me all-time in hooks sung by Soto. Today is my first listen since Friday at work but know what? The goddamn chorus has been stuck in my head all weekend and I caught myself on multiple occasions singing it out loud. Title track “Origami” also brings the ruckus like a third down running back at the goal line breaking tackles and hitting the end zone for the six. Guitarist Jorge Salan really coaxes some excellent riffs from his axe on both numbers, and fellow guitarist/keyboardist BJ uses said keys to enhance the songs, not overfill them. Perfect. First single “BeLie” has a very KING’S X feel to it, so obviously I dUg it (see what I did there??).
“World Gone Colder” and “Detonate” combine hard and heavy riffs with a precision attack carried out by bassist Tony Dickinson and drummer Edu Cominatu. All too often in the recording process the bass gets pushed too far down in the mix, or the drums are done very muddy, or both. Not on this record, and especially not on these two tracks. The band mixes in “Torn” as a nice change of pace, which gives us a minute to catch our collective breath, but at the same time it is still powerful with one bad motherfucker of a guitar solo three fourths of the way through. Plus Soto’s voice is amazing. “Dance With the Devil” is pure adrenaline and tailor made for a gym playlist. If I worked out I’d be jamming this one while hitting the weights for sure!
“AfterGlow” is hands-down my other favorite on this record besides “Hypermania.” The dirty, sexy groove of this thing damn near melted my pants off while I was at work, and tries to do so each time I listen. “Vanity Lane” is probably the only tune that didn’t resonate with me but that’s okay because the disc ends with a cover of Michael Jackson’s “Give In to Me” and this one DID resonate with me. Man alive, to hear this spin on a great song from the late King of Pop is so fucking cool! Overall though, Origami is an excellent album from SOTO and one that I highly recommend. If you’re not reaching for the REPEAT button when it’s over you’re beyond help.
STANDOUT TRACKS: “HyperMania”, “Origami”, “AfterGlow”, “World Gone Colder”, “Dance With the Devil”