Steve Vai The Story of Light Favored Nations Entertainment Steve Vai continues the convoluted narratives found on 2005’s Real Illusions: Reflection with his new concept album, The Story of Light—

Steve Vai
The Story of Light
Favored Nations Entertainment


Steve Vai continues the convoluted narratives found on 2005’s Real Illusions: Reflection with his new concept album, The Story of Light— the second installment of a trilogy displaying Vai’s interest in New Age spirituality.

As expected, this mostly instrumental album is filled with dense production, soaring multi-layered guitar tones, and tight harmonies. It does offer some nice surprises. Vai covers Blind Willie Johnson’s “John the Revelator” with a gospel choir and Beverly McClellan (a finalist on The Voice). He also duets with singer-songwriter Aimee Mann on “No More Amsterdam” to great effect. And Vai gets in his share of familiar arena-rock workouts like “Velorum” and “Gravity Storm,” and mellower compositions such as “Creamsickle Sunset.”

It’s a beautifully expansive work that orbits within a galaxy we’ve visited before, and Vai is truly awesome throughout. “John the Revelator” and “Book of the Seven Seals” are interesting because who hasn’t wanted to hear Vai in the context of a gospel choir or black musical theater? Although his spiritual libretto will confuse some, his artistry will leave no nonbelievers. —Oscar Jordan

Must-hear track: “Gravity Storm,” “No More Amsterdam”

Rig Rundown: Adam Shoenfeld

Whether in the studio or on solo gigs, the Nashville session-guitar star holds a lotta cards, with guitars and amps for everything he’s dealt.

Adam Shoenfeld has helped shape the tone of modern country guitar. How? Well, the Nashville-based session star, producer, and frontman has played on hundreds of albums and 45 No. 1 country hits, starting with Jason Aldean’s “Hicktown,” since 2005. Plus, he’s found time for several bands of his own as well as the first studio album under his own name, All the Birds Sing, which drops January 28.

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Diatonic sequences are powerful tools. Here’s how to use them wisely.

Advanced

Beginner

• Understand how to map out the neck in seven positions.
• Learn to combine legato and picking to create long phrases.
• Develop a smooth attack—even at high speeds.

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Knowing how to function in different keys is crucial to improvising in any context. One path to fretboard mastery is learning how to move through positions across the neck. Even something as simple as a three-note-per-string major scale can offer loads of options when it’s time to step up and rip. I’m going to outline seven technical sequences, each one focusing on a position of a diatonic major scale. This should provide a fun workout for the fingers and hopefully inspire a few licks of your own.
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