I on U

Neal Schon

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I on U Review

by Rob Theakston

One must give credit where it is due to Steve Vai and his imprint, Favored Nations. Like CMC International is to hair metal, Vai has assembled some of the most revered guitar shredders of the '80s and '90s and given them a safe home to roam freely and express their creative visions, without having the normal pressures of record labels hanging over their heads. The latest to join the family is Journey axe-slinger Neal Schon, who returns to the solo light after being away for several years. What's noticeably different right away is the sense of composition that was lacking in several of Schon's previous solo releases. Though the playing, guitar tones, and technical wizardry are clearly Schon, the influence of Vai and Satriani freely run throughout and make their presence known. This presence runs translucently from the album's opener, "Blue Passion" (which sounds like it could be a thoughtful response to Satriani's "Flying in a Blue Dream"), all the way until the end. The gentle keyboard washes and pads further reinforce this notion, but on the title track they almost bring Schon into dramatic new age territory. I on U runs a bit long in the tooth, but compensates by being solid, with barely any moments that could be regarded as filler. It's a nice return to form after a few solo slip-ups, and die-hard fans of Schon and his guitar solos in his other projects will find this to be a nice addition to their collections.

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