The second time out for this Phoenix guitarist picks right up where his previous release, Long Time Coming, left off. The licks here are upbeat and always positive. Soto makes the kind of music that is fun to listen to. His approach is winning over fans while getting the attention of artists such as Michael Lington, Jeff Lorber, and Jeffery Osborne. They share the spotlight just enough to make this one possibly a big hit in the making.
Maybe it’s just to make a statement, or maybe it’s just to emphasize the name of the disc, but Jay leads the disc with the title track. Those are usually placed a little further into the material, but this one is a nice lead off with non-stop riffs and a great hook that sets you at the beginning and keeps you tapping throughout. Surely, it wets your appetite to see what’s on the next track. “Just Like That” has a multiple four bar set up that leads into some of the best solo work on the disc. The four bars are revisited from time to time so that the track keeps its sense of being. This has got to be a fun one to play because it can really take off at any point. “Make It Happen” was co-written by Jeff Lorber. The keyboardist’s influences are visible with nice interplay with Soto. Gary Meeks joins them both at the end with his flute.
Vocalist Jeffery Osborne adds so much to the lyrics of “Love Has Found A Way.” His timeless delivery is a nice play off the Benson/Brown-like guitar of Soto. Don’t be surprised to hear this one on the airways this summer. “Slammin’” is probably my favorite song on the disc. It’s right in your face from the beginning with great horns that set up the chorus for more punch. There’s a tantalizing solo in this one that will leave you hanging just long enough to be run over again by the wall of sound by those same horns and Soto. Go ahead and hit the repeat button. The pushing beat of “Grooveland” has that distinctive Lorber feel to it once again. His keys are felt throughout with some nice tenor slices from Meeks. There’s a laid back approach to “Midnight Drive.” Soto’s guitar comes in thick and heavy after the intro like the fog along a winding road in the wee hours of the morning. He never gets in a hurry here, and it’s never boring either. This driver knows where he’s going and seems like he’s been here before.
The daylight equivalent to the previous track would have to be “Daydreamin’.” Its dream-like approach walks the listener through measure after measure, winding through the daydream with no hurry at all. It’s capped off with a modulation as if answering a question. Nice. Stevie Wonder’s classic, “Send One Your Love,” takes a slower approach than it’s original. This Paul Brown production features Michael Lington on sax throughout as he answers the volleys from Soto’s guitar. Jay finishes the cut with a short solo as it echoes away in the silence. Lorber lends his funk to “City Slicker” as a nice backbeat keeps this one right on track for Soto’s guitar and Meeks’s tenor once again. The twelve-song disc closes with a Paul Brown tune aptly named “Jaywalking.” This one has a nice walking tempo to it that makes you want to walk kind of funny, and that’s all right. Soto’s licks are upbeat and the sax plays off it well. It’s a nice way to end a delightful set.
There’s not much here to dislike. Yeah, it’s loaded with stars but the music is what makes it shine. Some of the credit has to be given to Darren Rahn who co-writes and produces three of the songs. They all stand on their own and the music is so positive. Be sure to find a copy soon and I’m sure that you too will want to Stay Awhile.
- Harvey Cline