SCORE - 95%
The two new solo albums from Toto’s Joseph Williams and Steve Lukather were signed in tandem, released in tandem, but recorded in completely opposing ways. Putting the two together showcases two very different sides of the Toto musical spectrum and being solo albums, it lets the listener sink into those individual realms a little longer than on an normal band record where you get a more filtered view. Luke has gone on record saying playing parts of the two records on shuffle would give fans a new Toto record and he’s not far off that truth.
Given that Joseph and Luke make multiple appearances on each other’s records as do fellow Toto alumni, it’s a neat crossover and a double dose of songs for Toto fans.
However, the two records could not be more diametrically opposed.
Toto vocalist Joseph Williams’ new album Denizen Tenant is everything Lukather’s album is not. It was carefully and meticulously produced over several months, with the production so sharp, there isn’t one note out of place.
It’s a well-crafted record that features some sublime arrangements and is every bit as polished as a full Toto release. With appearances across the record from Lukather, David Paich, Simon Phillips, Leland Sklar, Lenny Castro, Nathan East and Mike Landau alongside percussionist Lenny Castro.
Opening with a song that could easily have come from either of Toto’s two recent albums with Williams, the lush and sultry Never Saw You Coming is pure mature Westcoast/AOR which leads into the brighter Liberty Man, which is as Toto as you can get.
The title track is pure westcoast/jazz/pop and layered with vocals and rich instrumentation. It’s everything fans love about Joseph Williams throughout his career and if that song doesn’t get you, then the out of the box Wilma Fingadoux will.
Another highlight is the Steve Lukather driven Remember Her, layers deep in keyboards, guitars and percussion.
A couple of dreamy, somewhat eclectic tracks follow before another Lukather guest spot on the simple two-and-a-half-minute pop song If I Fell.
The more lengthy World Broken closes the album in a similar fashion to how it started. Rich, textured and lush melodic rock with a touch of Westcoast AOR and Williams providing another world class vocal.
And there you have it. One loose, raw and live record paired with a highly structured, methodical production piece. Both records have unique personalities and distinct characteristics but also intrinsic crossed-over musical alliances and both work equally well in their own right and shuffled together. It is a unique situation and I hope fans embrace both records for what they are.
I’m equally comfortable playing one individually and the other the following day, but also back to back for two glorious hours of perfectly executed musical genius.
Both albums may be best enjoyed at different times and for different moods, and depending on tastes, on different levels. But the talent behind both is clearly evident.