JSS / Jeff Scott Soto
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JSS / Jeff Scott Soto

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http://www.melodicrock.com/reviews/reviews.htm

Beautiful Mess is anything but. In fact, the album, which marks Jeff Scott Soto's switch to a more organic soul-rich sound, could well be his personal pinnacle for performance and emotion.

Signaling a change of direction a couple of years back, JSS has been intent on capturing the best elements of his many musical influences, which have always been on show in some parts of his prior solo career.

Pop, Soul, R&B and funk have all played a part in the JSS sound, but now they are front and center, with rock taking a backseat.

Beautiful Mess is a collaboration with Swedish songwriter/producer/musician Paulo Mendonca, largely recorded in Sweden.

I know there will be some JSS fans that might on the surface have a hard time accepting the direction change or the mood of the album. But the more you listen, the more the music appears as simply a natural progression from the sound we already know and love.

The main difference in the record – aside from the obvious production effects, sampling and various bells and whistles, is the fact it is simply a more mature and mellower, reflective Jeff Scott Soto.
The album reflects a particular state of mind and the performances ooze passion and emotion and for that reason, I loved the record from the first note. It is just so honest and real – and positively electric in its delivery and tone.


Track By Track:

21st Century is a snappy, effects filled modern pop rock track with a sultry vocal and a lush production and a catchy melodic chorus. A perfect set up for the record ahead and the new JSS direction.

Cry Me A River is a mellower, more reflective soulful pop/rock track with a slightly funky undertone.
Gin & Tonic Sky is simply one of the best songs JSS has ever put vocal to. This is a soulful, emotional and passionate pop ballad with some fabulous harmony vocals and an unforgettable chorus – not to mention the inspired lyrics. Outstanding vocals, from the softly sung beginning to the more powerful finish.

Hey is a largely acoustic based song and again features a sparse arrangement, with only the absolutely necessary instrumentation playing a part. A rockier chorus and more prominent guitars add a little muscle. Another wonderfully reflective track.

Broken Man is yet another inspired and touching acoustic driven ballad with a ton of soul and some delicate, well-placed harmony vocals. Another classy track and another killer vocal.

The first “half” of the album closes with a slight change of musical course. Opening with some of the more reflective mellower tunes in the new arsenal, JSS now rocks it up a little with a more modern rock friendly tone on the funky, effects filled rocker Mountain.

That is closely followed by the modern rock anthem Our Song, which while dressed up in a contemporary setting, is probably the closest thing to JSS of old on the album. A great hands-in-the-air chorus comes at a perfect time in the scheme of the album.

Eye and Bring It Home might be a couple of tracks that the traditionalists could struggle with – funky, driving pop/rock with a R&B base. Still, a well written song is a well written song – no matter the style and these have their own style of catchiness.

Testify is another track that has a familiar air to it – a fucky rocker with a Prince influence – drawing on Jeff's debut solo album Love Parade and his occasional style deviations since that point.

Wherever U Wanna Go is a song of contrasts – a slow, mellow verse and an upbeat pop chorus with a great hook. Really works well and is another album highlight.
Kick It is an acoustic driven modern pop track with a changing pace and a tempo that builds through the song to a rousing almost retro pop styled finish.

Heart Starts Healing and Take You Over With Me are both easy going, free flowing pop/rockers with a more traditional sound, while also matching the “new” JSS.

The bonus DVD is a very worthwhile addition to the package, containing 4 different music videos and a 20 minute discussion about the new album from JSS, whilst also cruising thru the corridors of the NAMM show, with countless guests making an appearance.


The Bottom Line

A truly great album for those that appreciate the craft of making good music and the art of making a record from one's heart.
JSS is all over this as far as style and influences and he sings his heart out. Paulo contributes some world-class pop production tricks and instrumentation and together they deserve to take on the world and win. Hopefully established JSS fans will all appreciate the work that has gone into this record and I'm also hopeful it will draw in a new range of fans.
- Melodicrock.com


Discography

2009 - Beautiful Mess CD/DVD - JSS
2005 - Essential Ballads CD - Jeff Scott Soto
2004 - Lost In The Translation CD - Jeff Scott Soto
2004 - Believe In Me (EP) CD - Jeff Scott Soto
2003 - Live at Queen International Fan Club
Convention DVD - Jeff Scott Soto
2002 - Live at the Gods CD - Jeff Scott Soto
2002 - Live at the Gods DVD - Jeff Scott Soto
2002 - Holding on (EP) CD - Jeff Scott Soto
2002 - Prism CD - Jeff Scott Soto
1995 - Love Parade CD - Jeff Scott Soto

For a complete discography of other works, please visit www.jeffscottsoto.com.

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Bio

JSS

Who is JSS?

He is an artiste who has graced many stages, a hybrid redolent of soul, pop, rock, blues and R&B influenced by luminaries such as Queen, Prince and Sam Cooke and a man who has proved, across the years that he can deliver all these genres well.

For many years JSS has been known to the world as 'Jeff Scott Soto'. In a career spanning more than twenty years, beginning as the vocalist for guitar virtuoso Yngwie Malmsteen, leading to frontman for many bands including; 'Talisman', the legendary 'Journey', 'Soul SirkUS' and currently for 'Trans Siberian Orchestra'. In 2002 he set out on the long, arduous road of a solo career with the acclaimed album 'Prism' and has released two solo albums since then, 'Lost In The Translation' and now 'Beautiful Mess'.

He came to the notice of many in the industry when he provided the lead vocals for the main character/singer of 'Steel Dragon' in the Mark Wahlberg motion picture 'Rock Star'. With an audience that comes from Europe, Asia, South America and North America, his appeal is about to be widened even further with this new highly commercial release.

What is 'Beautiful Mess'?

In 'Beautiful Mess' JSS blends the influences he grew up loving into one 'beautiful mess' indeed; from the rocking soul of '21st Century' to the sultry 'Gin & Tonic Sky' to the greasy funk of 'Bring It Home' to the Beatle-esque 'Kick It', JSS leaves no stone unturned in this release, pleasing fans old & new alike. 'Beautiful Mess', which is co-written & produced by the acclaimed Swedish artist/producer/writer Paulo Mendonça, is a turning point for JSS who recently dubbed by many as the 'hardest working man in show business' and this new album will find him touring the globe once again through 2009.

If you like the bite of Lenny Kravitz, the sultriness of Seal, the smoothness of Sam Cooke & the rawness of the nostalgic 70's rock 'n' soul, all mixed with a contemporary touch of today's best music, then you need to take a listen to 'Beautiful Mess' by JSS.

Jeff recently appeared with the Trans-Siberian Orchestra on their US Winter 2008 Tour.

JEFF SCOTT SOTO

By the time he reached his mid-30’s, Jeff Scott Soto had already spent twenty years splitting his time between recording studios and concert stages around the world. From heavy metal and funk to AOR and pop, Jeff has done it all.

Born November 4, 1965, in Brooklyn, New York, Jeff Scott Soto relocated to the San Fernando Valley in California at the age of eight. During his formative years, while his friends were drawn to the likes of Kiss, Jeff’s musical tastes leaned more toward bands like Queen, Journey and Motown artists like the Jackson 5. Following graduation from high school in 1983, Jeff and his older brother Joey formed a series of dead-end metal bands.

In late 1984, Soto answered an open call for audition tapes by former Alcatrazz guitarist Yngwie J. Malmsteen. Jeff’s major label debut on ‘Yngwie J. Malmsteen’s Rising Force’ was released on Polydor that year. In 1985, Jeff returned to the recording studio to record Malmsteen’s ‘Marching Out’. The band began kicked off a tour in Japan, creating quite a stir; a Tokyo concert was filmed and later released on video as ‘Chasing Yngwie: Live in Tokyo, ‘85’.

After leaving Yngwie’s band, Jeff recorded demos with ex-Kiss guitarist Vinnie Vincent and later resurfaced with Japanese guitarist Kuni Takeuchi on 1988’s ‘Lookin’ for Action’. Jeff also recorded vocals, albeit under an alias, for ‘Kryst the Conqueror’, a project spearheaded by members of punk legends The Misfits.

In 1990 Jeff Scott Soto collaborated with former Rising Force band mate, bassist Marcel Jacob, in a distinctly European metal band called Talisman. He also appeared with hard-rocking California party band Eyes. Neither band toured extensively; Jeff found time to record 1991’s ‘Skrapp Mettle’ album, wisely appearing under an assumed name.

1992 brought Jeff together with German guitarist Axel Rudi Pell for ‘Eternal Prisoner’, the first of four studio albums he would record with Pell. Throughout the Nineties, Soto split his time between Axel Rudi Pell, Talisman, the short-lived Eyes and Takara. 1993 saw the release of four albums to feature Jeff’s vocal work: Talisman’s sophomore release ‘Genesis’, the Eyes demo album ‘Windows of the Soul’, the soundtrack to the cartoon film ‘Biker Mice from Mars’ and ‘Eternal Faith’ by Takara. Jeff went on to write and record two more albums with Takara, 1995’s ‘Taste of Heaven’ and 1998’s ‘Blind in Paradise’.

1994 was a banner year. Talisman released ‘Five Out of Five Live’, recorded on their successful debut Japanese tour. While they busied themselves writing the next studio album, ‘Humanimal’, Jeff recorded ‘Between the Walls’ with Axel Rudi Pell, and paired up with Takara’s Gary Schutt, contributing lead vocals to Schutt’s ‘Sentimetal’ solo disc.

1995 brought Soto’s first solo endeavor, ‘Love Parade’. It was a funky affair,