Neal Schon is, undoubtedly, having one of his most inspired periods of creativity. His previous album, So U, showed clear signs of the guitarist's return to music excellence, signs re-inforced and confirmed on Schon's new release, Vortex.
The 2-CD all-instrumental album captures the rock guitarist in great form, showing once again his full versatility in this labour of phenomenal skills and craftmanship. A labour of love, too, considering that Schon dedicated, in the sleeve notes of the album, Vortex to his wife Michaele.
Vortex is a delightful album made of incredible rock vignettes, tinted with different elements of world music, jazz, classical and occasionally, even fusion. The opening Miles Beyond is a clear statement of intents on what the album is going to be like; a classy flight on rock experimentations, crafted with the attention to detail by a true Maestro. El Matador, Irish Cream and Airliner NS910 make rocking hearts pulsate even deeper, through Schon's majestic style and Steve Smith thunderous work on drums.
Jan Hammer, one of the most talented keyboardists worldwide is a vital presence on the album too. He and Igor Len add an even vigorous depth to the album by offering, possibly, the best keys on any rock record heard for a very long time. A track like Schon & Hammer Now, is a real demonstration of two musicians at the top of their game and an absolute joy to listen to, whether one may be a rock music fan or not.
There are some beautiful ballads too on the album, such as Tortured Souls, Unspoken Faith and Mom, the latter dedicated to Neal's mother Barbara.
An absolute gem of an album and most certainly a record that comes straight from the heart and soul of the american guitarist. The most sonic masterpiece of Neal Schon ever.
Giovanni "Gio" Pilato