Jeff Scott Soto – ‘Beautiful Mess’ (2009) – Album Review (The Jeff Scott Soto Series)

Jeff Scott Soto’s last solo albums was back in 2005 called ‘Lost in the Translation’. A lot had happened to Jeff after that album including Soul Sirkus and his brief stint with Journey as well as the final Talisman album. To say he had been busy would be an understatement. When it was time to sit down and do another solo album, Jeff wanted to shake things up a little sort of like he did with his band Redlist, only not as extreme as that. He had been loving the music of Swedish musician Paulo Mendonca and wanted to work with him on the album. Paulo ended up producing the as well as co-writing 11 of the 14 songs. Heck, Jeff only co-wrote 7 of the 14 songs which means a lot of these songs were written by other people for him to sing. To be honest, that scared me as Jeff has always written all or almost all of the songs on his albums in the past. Plus, Jeff’s normal band of Howie Simon, Alex Papa and Gary Schutt didn’t get to play on the album as it was Jeff and Paulo mostly which is disappointing.

The album was completed and released on February 20, 2009 with Frontiers although they wasn’t originally the expectation since Jeff felt the songs didn’t fit his normal sound. Soto’s sound for this album wasn’t as heavy as ‘Lost in the Translation’ and sort of went the other direction. It was a little bit groovy, a little bit funky, a little bit of soul and even a little bit of pop with maybe a dab of hard rock and a dash of blues. It is really all over the place. Is that good or bad, I guess we will see. The album was titled ‘Beautiful Mess’ and became known as ‘BM’. Wow! That is a disgusting nickname for the album. I don’t usually enjoy my BM’s so do I want to listen to an album nicknamed BM?

The album does kick off with a rock song. “21st Century” is a guitar driven track, however, Jeff’s vocals are more funky and there are modern electronic elements as well. The chorus though is as catchy as you’d expect as he knows how to have a little hook to make you sing along. It definitely sets the pace and lets you know that this isn’t going to be the typical Soto release. It is a little left of center and yet it works and is a great start to the album with its high energy and all around fun sound.

“Cry Me A River” slows the tempo down and brings us more of a funk-infused pop song with some heavy soul influences. The bass line is pretty cool, that funked-up guitar riff is interesting and though Jeff doesn’t go full on singing for the verses, that bridge and chorus are full of that Soto sound. This confirms you aren’t getting what you expect and so far I’m okay with that change.

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