Sound: "The Story Of Light" is the eighth studio album release by Steve Vai. It released on the Favored Nations label, which is also owned by Steve Vai. If you count EPs, live albums and concert releases, then this would be Steve Vai's eighteenth release. Steve Vai has been an iconic guitarist, and possibly one of the most popular musicians amongst guitarists for many years. "The Story Of Light" proves that after all of this time Steve Vai can still release an album of primarily instrumental music that is still vital, entertaining and at time astounding from a technical standpoint. With 12 tracks on the album, the total time clocks in at just under a full hour. From beginning to end, the album stays entertaining, emotive and made me want to go run to play guitar.
As always the guitar work is amazing, with maybe a little less shred and a little more melody than on previous Steve Vai releases (not saying there isn't always an abundance of melody). If you listen to the first single from the album, "Gravity Storm", it can give you the wrong impression of the album. "Gravity Storm" is one of the heaviest songs on the album and isn't necessarily an accurate representation of what to expect on the album. What I really noticed on "The Story Of Light" is the bass and percussion seemed to have a lot more thought put into them than on previous releases. I was especially impressed with the bass on a few of the songs. There are a few short parts with non-standard percussion instruments, some harp, and what I believe is a wooden flute. If you are a fan of Steve Vai you will not be disappointed. If you are a fan of amazing guitar work then you will not be disappointed. If you are a fan of pop music or ultra-accessible music, then you might not like this album but you won't know until you try it. // 8
Lyrics: There are not a lot of lyrics on the album, as it is really mostly an instrumental album. There are 3 songs that have a vocalist credited for them, which would include "John The Revelator", "The Moon And I" and "No More Amsterdam". A few of the lyrics that I've tried to transcribe (poorly) from the song "No More Amsterdam" follows: "The more that I see the less I know/ This time its not what I need/ I'm weaving between the need to just let go/ but holding on is what I'm used to when I'm in an undertow". I don't have a lot to say about the lyrics. Steve Vai's singing voice is not my favorite, but it isn't horrible either. In fact, he sings worlds better than me so I can't say much. I can see how his voice might bother some people, though. "John The Revelator" is sung by Beverly McClellan who was actually a contestant on "The Voice". She has several self-released albums, but nothing from a major label. Steve Vai sings by himself on "The Moon And I", and he duets with Aimee Mann on "No More Amsterdam". I didn't buy this album for the vocals and nothing about them really blew me away, though I don't feel like complaining about them too strongly, either. // 6
Overall Impression: I had pre-ordered this album several weeks ago, but due to a mix up I didn't receive it on the release date, so I basically had to run a town over to get a copy on the day of release and I feel like it was definitely worth it. By far my favorite tracks on the album are "Gravity Storm", "Weeping China Doll" and "Velorum". I didn't dislike any songs on this album, but Steve's version of "John The Revelator" stood out to me as not really fitting in with the other songs. The title track "The Story Of Light", which has a female voice speaking in what I think is Italian and narrating something irked me a little mainly because I don't speak Italian and don't know what she was saying.
I've come to expect a Steve Vai album to be almost a journey from start to end, best enjoyed chilled out and sitting back and listening to all the textures in his tracks with his soloing soaring over the other instruments. "The Story Of Light" did not disappoint in this regard. After the first listen, the second listen is sitting plugged into my amplifier trying to pick out pieces of his melodies and that was also supremely enjoyable. The third listen to the album is so I could try to listen more objectively and to try to pick up things I missed the first few times around. By the third listen of "The Story Of Light" I was deeply in love with this album. Regardless of how you feel about Steve Vai, you have to recognize that he can play the guitar like a genius, and he is worth listening to for that alone, but luckily he also comes up with interesting compositions which adds more value than his virtuoso playing. // 8
- Brandon East (c) 2012