1. movement, passage, or change from one position, state, stage, subject, concept,
etc., to another;change: the transition from adolescence to adulthood.
a. a passing from one key to another; modulation.
b. a brief modulation; a modulation used in passing.
c. a sudden, unprepared modulation.
3. a passage from one scene to another by sound effects, music, etc.,
as in a television program, theatrical production, or the like
For Steve Lukather, life has certainly been all of the above. His latest release Transition, explores his own personal and professional metamorphosis from rocker-with-a-history to guitarist-in-touch-with-life. It’s a road he has embraced with passion, and that fire extends to this new album.
Easily one of the busiest and most talented guitarists in today’s spectrum, Lukather has spent the past year sandwiching writing, recording and mixing the album in between virtual non-stop touring with Toto, G3 and a summer of fun with Ringo. His hectic schedule may in fact point to one of the reasons the album is as good as it is; finding refuge making music in the studio. After years of personal crisis and too many years on the road, Luke has faced his demons and the mirror. Strong is the man who can look at his reflection, see the truth and move up to the next level.
A first listen to the album reveals an inner peace to his guitar playing. Not to say it isn’t innovative or inspired, it is. But this release is not about shredding a song or two. It’s a journey where the music flows, and it carries you from start to finish.
The opening track, “Judgement Day” begins with a little electronic tempo, then the guitar breaks in as smooth as glass. A fine vocal leads into a truly kickass chorus, alongside some fiery guitar and complimentary bass work by Lee Sklar.
In talking about “Creep Motel,” Lukather said “You can’t fix stupid sometimes.” It’s a little more of a bluesy sound, and the message is clear. “Save your bullshit, you know the smell. I know the devil has reserved your place in hell.” It’s an easy listen, and that chorus is memorable, maybe even useful in the right situation.
A soft piano brings out the sadness of lost love in “Once Again.” The ballad is tender at first, building to the chorus where Lukather brings out the fitting emotion. Throughout the album, Luke seems intent on creating an entire package rather than a guitar-centric piece. A few songs, like “Right the Wrong” are a little heavy on production, but those songs are also where he pulls out the stops on the guitar. The balance works.
The title song changes gears and slides into a little fusion, and a nice guitar lesson at the same time. Mostly an instrumental track, it evolves in the middle to a little more jazz and less electronic.
One of the best songs on the album, “Last Man Standing” is an anthem to picking yourself up… no matter how many times you’ve been knocked down. Everything about this song works, and works really well. The album ends with an instrumental version of Charlie Chaplin’s “Smile,” a tribute to his late mother. In this track, Lukather’s guitar tells you all you need to know about what loss feels like.
With the exception of the last two tracks, Lukather co-wrote all of the songs, mostly with friend and co-producer C.J. Vanston. It is strong stuff from a man who has morphed from a wild rock star into a Zen Master. He needed to travel a long road from dark to light in order to reach this plateau, and it would seem he’s become quite content with the reflection in the mirror.
Whether you listen to this album with headphones, or have it as a backdrop to your day, Transition delivers a well-crafted blend of music which flows through its entirety. Lukather’s vocals are strong, and in his guitar work, there is energy as well as harmony.
Worthy and wonderful.
Written by Kath Galasso
OurVinyl | Contributor
Right the Wrong
Last Man Standing
Do I Stand Alone
Rest of the World