At this point in Jeff Scott Soto’s career, he had been signed with Frontiers Records for about 15 years now. This 2017 album, ‘Retribution'(which was released on November 10 of that year), was timed perfectly for his 15th Anniversary with the label. This is also his 6th solo album, the first dating back all the way to 1994’s ‘Love Parade’. As with a lot of his solo work, his good friend, Howie Simon, was back to help out and he did a lot. He co-wrote most of the songs, played on the most of them and co-produced the album with Jeff. Jeff brings in some help on drums with Edu Cominato who is Jeff’s drummer in his band SOTO. These three handle everything on the album on all songs, but two and we will talk about the players on those two songs when we get to them.
At times this album is as heavy as his SOTO band, but most of it is pretty standard melodic rock. And I say standard, because at this point in his catalog, I am not real thrilled with this solo albums. At first, I thought after spending around 15 months reviewing a Jeff Scott Soto album every single week, I was maybe getting burned out, but that is not the case. Reviewing the Sons of Apollo album was a lot of fun and so was the Joel Hoektra’s 13 album and all the recent W.E.T. albums. His music still excites me. But the solo stuff, especially this album, does not so much. I think it is the quality of the songs more than anything, but let’s dive in to those songs and find out why. I am apparently wrong in my thinking a vast majority of the reviews I read on this one praised it.
The album opens with a barrage of sound and then a dirty, gritty guitar riff. The title track, “Retribution”, is a on the heavier side closer to SOTO, but more melodic. The chorus is big, the guitars are powerful (listen to that solo), the drums are destructive and all leads to an explosive opening track.
Next up is “Inside/Outside” which is a pure melodic rock track. It has an ear catching opening like the title track, but toned down a little. The bass is heavy on this one, thumping hard and high in the mix. The song is a very radio-friendly track and has a really catchy chorus that will draw you in and you now it is Soto’s vocals that are the draw as they are powerful, smooth and they soar all at the same time.
“Rage of the Year” might be my favorite track on this one. The song is a duet with Bigfoot’s lead singer Ant Ellis. For those that don’t know, Bigfoot is a Brazilian band that Jeff has handled productions duties on. Ant’s vocals are higher pitched then Jeff’s but the blend of the two works great. The two battle back and forth and turn it in to a great vocal song as it was a fun ride hearing them go off each other. The song is a high energy rock fest with a chorus that is catchy as hell. Again, the bass is heavy, the rhythm section is driving hard and the guitar solo is killer as I bet Howie had to pay his wah wah pedal overtime on this one as he worked it hard. Best solo on the album…maybe.
Then we get to “Reign Again” and it almost has a classic rock vibe to it mixed with an 80’s sound with the styling of the verse/chorus play, the keyboards and the overall tone. Maybe a whole Foreigner vibe. Jeff’s vocals could be a little Lou Gramm on this one. It is catchy track, but compared to the three opening tracks a little lesser than those. “Reign Again” had a lot of guests on the song including August Zadra and Stephen Sturm on guitar with Carlos Costa on bass and you can tell as the sound is different, but you don’t mind.
“Feels Like Forever” is the first ballad on the album. And Jeff knows how to sing a ballad and doesn’t disappoint. The song feels a little “Ballad of Jayne”/LA Guns to me with the guitar sound and that isn’t a bad thing. The song took me back to a bygone era and when it can do that, it must be a good song.
Now, with the next track, “Last Time”, the opening is a slow build and you expect a big pay off, but that pay off never comes. The song feels like it is running in place not going anywhere. The chorus is catchy, but doesn’t really take it over the top which it needs. The first big misstep on the album.
Then we get a mixture of funk and a little jazzy vibe with “Bullet for My Baby”. Jeff’s vocals are great on this one, I like his style on delivery of the lyrics and that choruses is one giant hook so little fishies beware! The music is interesting and not typical with more wah-wah and even a talk box I believe. It has some interesting breaks, riffs, fills and overall a solid rock track.
Next is a very personal song for Jeff called “Song for Joey” as it is a tribute to his late brother Joey who passed away. It will tug at the heart strings as you can feel how personal it is to him. That chorus is really big and quite nice and the piano intro is nice along with the keyboards adding some orchestration. The music overall has a great tone, but the lyrics are a little clunky (not sure how to describe it), but it doesn’t take me where I expected it to go and for that it left me wanting something more. Still, not a bad track and very touching. Most of the instrumentation on this one was handled by Paul Mendonca who did guitar, bass and keyboards. Edu still did the drums.
“Breakout” comes out of the gate swinging with a really cool riff thrown in. It is the type of song everyone expects from Soto as it could’ve fit on any Talisman album. The “Liar, Pants on fire” part is so fucking corny though and he repeats it a lot and for that it really detracts from how good this song can be. Yes, if you have crappy lyrics it does hurt the song. With different lyrics, this might’ve been a fun track.
Then we get “Dedicate to You” which is another upbeat melodic rock track that he has been doing for years and for that I think I find it boring and dull and uninteresting. I like the start of the album a lot, but the album definitely dies out by the end for me.
The album closes with “Autumn” which has a beautiful, acoustic opening and Jeff’s vocals layered on top is what I love about his voice. It can just blend so well with the instrumentation surrounding him. His vocals are so soulful and the song has a maturity to it that sometimes is lacking on this album. Scorpions like to close out an album with a ballad so this is not a bad way to go out and is definitely the best ballad on the album. Way go Jeff and Howie, good job with this one.
- Retribution – Keeper
- Inside/Outside – Keeper
- Rage of the Year – Keeper
- Reign Again – Keeper (1/2 Point)
- Feels Like Forever – Keeper
- Last Time – Delete
- Bullet For My Baby – Keeper
- Song for Joey – Keeper (1/2 Point)
- Breakout – Delete
- Dedicate To You – Delete
- Autumn – Keeper
The Track Score is 7out of 11 Tracks or 64%. As I said, the reviews I read on this were glowing, but that is not what I take away from the album. I’m left in a dull glimmer of light about to burn out. The album opens really strong and I had high hopes, but it all faded as the back half of the album felt like all filler, very little killer. Jeff’s vocals are as great as usual, but the songs here and even the production a little bit were lacking overall. Howie’s guitar though kicked some ass through out and he was digging the wah-wah which I loved. With all that being said, My Overall Score is a 3.0 out of 5.0 Stars as it is still better than a lot of people’s song, but not up to the standards have for a Soto album.
UP NEXT: W.E.T. – ‘EARTHRAGE’ (2018)
THE JEFF SCOTT SOTO SERIES:
- Panther – ‘Panther’ (1986) – recorded in 1984
- Yngwie Malmsteen’s Rising Force – ‘Rising Force’ (1984)
- Yngwie Malmsteen’s Rising Force – ‘Marching Out’ (1985)
- Kuni – ‘Lookin’ For Action’ (1988)
- Kryst the Conqueror – ‘Deliver Us From Evil’ (1989) / ‘Soldiers of Light: The Complete Recordings (2019)
- Eyes – ‘Eyes’ (1990)
- Eyes – “Nobody Said It Was Easy” (1990) – 7″ Single – Bonus Edition
- Talisman – ‘Talisman’ (1990)
- Talisman – “I’ll Be Waiting” (1990) – 7″ Single – Bonus Edition
- Skrapp Mettle – ‘Sensitive’ (1991)
- Axel Rudi Pell – ‘Eternal Prisoner’ (1992)
- Bakteria – ‘Deficate! Suffocate! Mutilate! Masturbate!’ (1992 / 2009)
- Eyes – ‘Windows of the Soul’ (1993)
- Talisman – ‘Genesis’ (1993)
- Axel Rudi Pell – ‘The Ballads’ (1993)
- Biker Mice From Mars – ‘Biker Mice From Mars (Soundtrack)’ (1993)
- Takara – ‘Eternal Faith’ (1993)
- Talisman – ‘5 Out Of 5 (Live in Japan)’ (1994)
- Talisman – ‘Humanimal’ (1994)
- Axel Rudi Pell – ‘Between the Walls’ (1994)
- Gary Schutt – ‘Sentimetal’ (1994)
- Jeff Scott Soto – ‘Love Parade’ (1994)
- Axel Rudi Pell – ‘Made in Germany (Live)’ (1995)
- Takara – ‘Taste of Heaven’ (1995)
- Talisman – ‘Life’ (1995)
- Axel Rudi Pell – ‘Black Moon Pyramid’ (1996)
- Human Clay – ‘Human Clay’ (1996)
- Talisman – ‘Best of’ (1996)
- Axel Rudi Pell – ‘Magic’ (1997)
- Human Clay – ‘U4IA’ (1997)
- Boogie Knights – ‘Welcome to the Jungle Boogie’ (1997)
- Takara – ‘Blind in Paradise’ (1998)
- Talisman – ‘Truth’ (1998)
- ‘Rock Star: Music from the Motion Picture (Soundtrack)’ – Various Artists (2001)
- Humanimal – ‘Humanimal’ (2002)
- Humanimal – Find My Way Home: Limited Edition E.P. (2002)
- Jeff Scott Soto – ‘Holding On E.P.’ (2002)
- Jeff Scott Soto – ‘Prism’ (2002)
- Talisman – ‘Live at Sweden Rock Festival’ (2002)
- Jeff Scott Soto – ‘JSS Live at the Gods 2002’ (2003)
- Talisman – ‘Cats & Dogs’ (2003)
- Jeff Scott Soto – ‘Believe in Me E.P.’ (2004
- Jeff Scott Soto – ‘Lost in the Translation’ (2004)
- Jeff Scott Soto – ‘Live at the Queen Convention 2003’ (2004)
- Soul SirkUS – ‘World Play’ (2004/2005)
- Talisman – ‘Five Men Live’ (2005)
- Talisman – ‘World’s Best Kept Secret DVD (2005)
- Jeff Scott Soto – ‘Essential Ballads’ (2006)
- Journey – ‘Live from Atlanta (Bootleg)’ (2006)
- Talisman – ‘7’ (2006)
- Talisman – The Albums Ranked Worst to First
- Jeff Scott Soto – ‘B-Sides’ (2006)
- Redlist – ‘Ignorance’ (2007)
- Jeff Scott Soto – LA Rocks Demo / Vinnie Vincent Demo 1988 (2008)
- Jeff Scott Soto – ‘Beautiful Mess’ (2009)
- Jeff Scott Soto – “21st Century” / “Gin & Tonic Sky” CD Single (2009) – Bonus Edition
- Jeff Scott Soto – ‘One Night in Madrid’ (2009)
- Trans-Siberian Orchestra – ‘Night Castle’ (2009)
- W.E.T. – ‘W.E.T.’ (2009)
- Jeff Scott Soto – ‘Live at Firefest 2008’ (2010)
- Jeff Scott Soto – ‘Damage Control’ (2012)
- W.E.T. – ‘Rise Up’ (2013)
- W.E.T. – ‘One Live in Stockholm’ (2014)
- Jeff Scott Soto – The Authorized Biography (2014)
- SOTO – ‘Inside the Vertigo’ (2015)
- Joel Hoekstra’s 13 – Dying to Live (2015)
- SOTO – ‘Divak’ (2016)
- Sons of Apollo – ‘Psychotic Symphony’ (2017)
- Jeff Scott Soto – ‘Retribution’ (2017)
- W.E.T. – ‘Earthrage’ (2018)
- SOTO – ‘Origami’ (2019)
- Sons of Apollo – ‘Live With the Plovdiv Psychotic Symphony’ (2019)
- Jeff Scott Soto – ‘Wide Awake (In My Dreamland)’ (2020)
- Jeff Scott Soto – ‘Live and Loud in Milan 2019’ (2020)
- Sons of Apollo – ‘MMXX’ (2020)
- SOTO – ‘Revision’ (2020)
- Talisman – “Never Say Die (A Song For Marcel)” – 7″ Single (2020)
- W.E.T. – ‘Retransmission’ (2021)
- Jeff Scott Soto – ‘The Duets Collection, Vol. 1’ (2021)
- Jeff Scott Soto – ‘Complicated’ (2022)
- Ellefson/Soto – ‘Vacation in the Underground’ (2022)
- Jeff Scott Soto / Jason Bieler – Live In Concert (2022) – Bonus Edition
10 thoughts on “Jeff Scott Soto – ‘Retribution’ (2017) – Album Review (The Jeff Scott Soto Series)”
I trust you far more than a paid reviewer who gave it one listen and never played it again.
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Glad to have that trust.
I guess eventually the material will start to fizzle out when you are putting out various solo/band albums. The butter can only be spread so thin!
Great writeup though and appreciate the honesty…
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That is the problem I think.
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The songs presented sound pretty cool. I don’t know how much repeat value I’d get out of them, and it sounds as if they’re the best of the group given your review.
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Nope you are not wrong in your thinking. I didn’t mind listening to it, but there was nothing there to grab me.
And his work with WET, Joel H and SOA is different and exciting.