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”