Virtuoso guitarist and visionary composer Steve Vai has been around since the early ’70s, playing throughout the four-plus decades with the likes of Frank Zappa, Alcatrazz, David Lee Roth and Whitesnake, just to name a few.
He’s also had an astonishing solo career, starting out with his psychedelic debut Flex-Able and the follow-up, Passion and Warfare, which could very well be his masterpiece.
Vai’s 16th solo album, The Story of Light is another feather in his cap with a dozen mostly instrumental songs. There are a couple of exceptions, however, like the Blind Willie Johnson blues rock jam, “John the Revelator,” on which Beverly McClellan (“The Voice”) handles a ballsy, bluesy, gospel-tinged lead vocal.
A surprising guest appearance comes from indie darling Aimee Mann who co-wrote and duets with Vai on the folk-inspired “No More Amsterdam.” In addition, Vai takes the microphone on the spacey jazz number, “The Moon and I.”
The highlight of The Story of Light comes midway through the album when Vai pushes his Ibanez guitar to the limit with the funky, distorted guitar rhythms on “Gravity Storm.” This is classic Vai rocking out with baritone grooves and soaring leads.
The admirers of the three-time Grammy Award winner will embrace The Story of Light not only for Vai’s guitar playing, but his ability to merge genres while continuing to push their limits.