After yet another trying chapter for Toto who seemingly fell apart towards the end of their ‘Forty Trips Around the Sun’ jaunt, Steve Lukather emerged, "out of the dust" from the resulting legal tussles, got himself into the studio, and knocked out an album in just over a week. Mixed and ready to go a short time later, you'd be forgiven for thinking that ‘I Found the Sun Again' - his first solo set set 2013’s ‘Transition’ - might sound a little rushed, but within its grooves lies a laid back, lush, and warm affair that belies its succinct creation.
Aiming to create; "something old school; like making an old jazz record, but a rock version of that, kind of like a jam band record with songs", Luke has assembled a cast of the musical great and the greater, to help him achieve this. Roping in a number of friends including Toto founder and keyboardist David Paich who appears throughout, and guests including late '80s / current Toto singer Joseph Williams, Lukather has also persuaded his BFF, The Beatles Ringo Starr to come along for the ride.
While the addition of these names add much to its pallet, this is, of course, a Steve Lukather album, and what a platter it is. Crediting his new romantic relationship with inspiring ‘I Found the Sun Again’, Luke sounds genuinely reborn, and it’s refreshing to hear him in such upbeat form.
Kicking off in top gear with ‘Just Along For the Ride’, Steve is in commanding form from the off. With it's jaunty riff which gives way to the powerful, power chord-heavy chorus, it's driven along by Paich's Who-like keys. It’s followed by the jazzy shuffle of ‘Serpent Soul’, which lazily slithers along until it reaches it’s upbeat layered chorus, which is a real earworm.
It should be a surprise to no-one that Steve Lukather knows how to write a finely crafted song, and this is no better exemplified than on single 'Run to Me'. Written as a birthday present for Ringo Starr and featuring the drummer clearly having the time of his life, is probably the most fun track on the album, aided by a playful soulful contribution from Williams, who compliments Lukather's rockier rasp.
As with his day job, the songs of course take centre stage, but fans of Lukather's shredding abilities will be glad to hear that there's plenty for them too. The freeform solo in 'The Low Spark of High Heeled Boys' is nothing short of jaw dropping, while the initial pensive, measured mood in the instrumental ‘Journey Through’ explodes into a closing refrain which simply soars. The latter also features a tone to die for.
Thoroughly upbeat throughout, it's clear that Steve has indeed found the sun again, but the drama is never far from Toto and its members, and here, it's provided by tempestuous closer ‘Bridge of Sighs’. A dark and twisted dirge that prowls like a predator, it's among the album's highlights. With Paich teasing on Hammond, and Lukather soloing like a demon on his wah-wah, it's an unforgettable way to close out the album.
Succinct at eight tracks, ‘I Found the Sun Again' doesn't outstay its welcome. With a new Toto arising from the ashes of the old, this album will satiate those waiting to see what happens next with the AOR giants.
Read our February 2021 interview with Steve Lukather, here.
'I Found the Sun Again' is released on Fri 26th February 2021, via The Players Club / Mascot Label Group.