The beating heart of melodic rockers Journey and well-known guitarist Neal Schön has gathered the talents of Journey drummer Deen Castronovo in conjunction with bassist Marco Mendoza, known for his work with Black Star Riders, Ted Nugent and Whitesnake amongst others, and the three forces have produced an interesting album as a result.
It would be too easy to dismiss such collaboration or see So U as an opportunity for some self-indulgent expressions. Thankfully they avoid the pitfalls of such self-confident bravado for the most part but do fall foul on a couple of musical moments like Exotica and Big Ocean. Both are instrumentals which showcase the skills and virtuosity of the musicians but do little for fans of song.
As a listener of So U, there is plenty to enjoy like the atmospheric and extravagant title track or the excellent On My Way with its hints of Stevie Salas Concorde. Take a Ride and What You Want both have the groove-factor ingrained in their DNA and are all the better for it. In contrast to these toe-tapping rockers, Love Finds a Way offers up a power ballad which would be comfortable with a sea of swaying lighters.
Main man Schön stated this about So U, “This is a great new record that features all three of us – Deen, Marco and myself – sharing lead vocals. Enjoy!” It is evident that he is gushing with pride and enthusiasm about this project, and for all intents and purposes it entertains.
So U covers all bases competently but fades in context to the musicians’ day jobs. For those who are patiently waiting for the next Journey album or admire Mendoza’s bass-work, this would make a pleasant pit-stop and is likely to entertain in the meantime. You wouldn’t be likely to add it to the “classic” category anytime soon, but the main observation of So U is how their instincts guided them from making this a dirge or an album for musicians.