Schon, Neal - Voice

Year of Release: 2001
Label: Higher Octave Music
Catalog Number: HOM 10418
Format: CD
Total Time: 47:03:00

Nominated for a Grammy as Best Pop Instrumental Album of 2001 (though Larry Carlton and Steve Lukather took the honor for No Substitutions - Live In Osaka), Neal Schon's Voice is a collection of "modern classics" presented here in instrumental form and released by Higher Octave Music. Okay, the word prog doesn't appear anywhere, and yes, this is really a pop album, but Schon's skill as guitarist makes that irrelevant. There's a reason why this album was thought of highly, as Schon's guitar truly sings literally on every track -- well, it is called Voice is it not? "Caruso" has a late-night at the night club feel about it, where Schon's guitar mixes thoughtful musing with agonizing cries -- like the inner and outer-selves, a calm exterior while a storm rages inside. Drums, percussion and keyboards play quietly subdued in the background, giving Schon all the room he needs.

While one may not think of Mariah Carey's "Hero" as a modern classic -- and as someone who avoids Carey whenever possible, I'm not at all familiar with this song -- "Killing Me Softly" (popularized by Roberta Flack) and "My Heart Will Go On" (Celine Dion) certainly are. Yet, there is something familiar sounding about "Hero" so I must have heard it somewhere at sometime. I do like Schon's performance here though. And like the song suggests, the epic and soaring arrangement is heroic, as Schon lets notes fly into the stratosphere.

You will also recognize "(Everything I Do) I Do It For You" as the Michael Kamen/Robert John Lange tune from the Kevin Costner film Robin Hood: Prince Of Thieves, sung by Bryan Adams. Think what you will of the movie and of the song itself, Schon gives it the right kind of emotion without straying far from the original recording at all. I have to admit that I liked the Adams version and now like the Schon version just as much. And no, I'm not sure it will be considered a classic, despite the fact that at the time of its original release it was overplayed on the radio (a fate that also befell "My Heart...").

Schon's take on Annie Lennox's "Why" is fairly faithful, even duplicating the breathy "whys" that start out the track with keys -- so true are they, one wonders if they weren't just sampled. There is some percussion here, programmed, that does sound a little too synthesized -- the sighs of the digital cymbals a little fuzzy and powdery (the best way I can describe them).

"Con Te Partiro" is an Italian piece popularized by Andrea Bocelli and used in the Bellagio Hotel (Las Vegas) commercials. It has become something of a signature tune for Bocelli and, as elsewhere, Schon does a very nice job of it... but as elsewhere, but for the guitar in the lead, it doesn't deviate from the original (or very little). That isn't a criticism, as Schon was specifically trying to capture the essence of these pieces in an instrumental context. In that he succeeds.

Other than by association, there is never a time where you think of Journey (or Santana, for that matter), as Schon's playing is a lot smoother here, and allowed to have space here in the role of "vocalist." Backing him are Gary Cirimelli on keyboards, drum programming and acoustic rhythm guitar and Scott Fuller on keyboards for all but three of the album's 10 tracks.

I have really enjoyed listening to Voice, and for those proggy folks who are also into contemporary instrumental, I think you will, too. Schon's guitar has a sweet tone that is slightly melancholy at time - especially during "I Can't Make You Love Me" and "A Song For You," the latter of which is a Leon Russell piece.

Caruso (5:40) / Hero (4:39) / (Everything I Do) I Do It For You (5:52) / Killing Me Softly (5:03) / From This Moment On (5:07) / Why (4:53) / I Can't Make You Love Me (4:44) / Con Te Partiro (4:11) / My Heart Will Go On (4:41) / A Song For You (4:12)

Neal Schon - guitars
Gary Cirimelli - keyboards, drum programming and acoustic rhythm guitar
Scott Fuller - keyboards (1, 2, 4, 5, 7, 8, 9)

Santana - Santana (1969)
Santana - Santana III (1971)
Santana - Carlos Santana & Buddy Miles! Live! (1972)
Santana - Caravanserai (1972)
Santana - Viva Santana (1988)
Santana - Hot Tamales (1999)
Journey - Journey (1975)
Journey - Look Into The Future (1976)
Journey - Next (1977)
Journey - Infinity (1978)
Journey - In The Beginning (1979)
Journey - Evolution (1979)
Journey - Departure (1980)
Journey - Dream After Dream (1980)
Journey - Captured (1981)
Journey - Escape (1981)
Journey - Tron (OST) (1982)
Journey - Frontiers (1983)
Journey - Raised On Radio (1986)
Journey - Greatest Hits (1988)
Journey - Ballads Collection (1992)
Journey - Time 3 (1992)
Beyond The Thunder (1995)
Journey - Trial By Fire (1996)
Electric World (1997)
Journey - Greatest Hits Live (1998)
Piranha Blues (1999)
Journey - The Journey Continues (2001)
Journey - Arrival (2001)
Journey - The Essential Journey (2001)
Voice (2001)
Journey - Red 13 (ep) (2002)
Santana - The Essential Santana (2002)
Journey - Generations (2005)
I On U (2005)
Soul Sirkus - World Play (2005)
Revelation (2008)

Live: 2001 (DVD) (2001)
Greatest Hits DVD 1978-1997: Videos And Live Performances (DVD) (2003)
Live In Houston 1981: The Escape Tour (DVD) (2006)
With Love From Japan (DVD) (2008)

Genre: Other

Origin US

Added: September 29th 2002
Reviewer: Stephanie Sollow
Artist website:
Hits: 507
Language: english


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