As usual, Steve covers a lot of ground here....everything from big gospel-choir Blues, Broadway showtunes, Irish traditional music as well as a huge dose of his own incomparable style.
I get the same 'return to form' feeling as I did with Satriani's 'Black Holes and Wormhole Wizards'. I hadn't been really wowed by Joe's previous few releases until Wizards took up all my listening time for a month or two. Similarly, I didn't find a great deal on Real Illusions that I kept returning to, but 'Story of Light' is fantastic.
I've listened to it about a half dozen times all the way through so far, so I'll add my early impressions. I'm giving this 5 stars no problem for the overall consistency and the many WOW moments. Overall, very melodic and creative but it'll take many more listens to hear all the rest of the stuff Steve has crammed into each track.
The Story of Light: Opens up big and euphoric, has a great melody and solo.
Velorum: Massive opening riff, but settles into a gorgeous melody. Lots of light and dark passages. Steve's blazing on this.
John the Revelator: First surprise of the disc, starts off with scratchy old vinyl blues track, enter huge riff...then Beverly McClennan (??) just kills on the vocal, awesome. Reminds me of the choir before the Cutting Heads duel from 'Crossroads'.
Book of the Seven Seals: I've read many interviews where Steve is raving about West Side Story and Leonard Bernstein, so I guess this is what comes out when he writes a Broadway tune. Perfectly sequenced after Revelator, and I'm surprised how much I like it, not being a fan of showtunes.
Creamsicle Sunset: Little bit of 'Call It Sleep' and a little bit of 'Tender Surrender', beautiful melody.
Gravity Storm: Huge and sludgey, does feel like gravity is out of control and pulling heavier than normal.
Mullach a' tSi: Traditional Irish tune, given the Seventh Song treatment. Similar to 'Whspering a Prayer', which is probably no coincidence. The Seventh Songs never disappoint, nobody does the ballad better.
The Moon and I: First heard this on Vai Tunes, and thought it was great then. Nice moody melody and Steve's soloing is extraordinary on this one.
Weeping China Doll: Another huge opening riff, some soaring melodies and great leads.
Racing the World: My favorite track, total knockout. Races along, brilliant melody and Steve is just out of this world here. I'll have this on infinite repeat.
No More Amsterdam: Duet with Aimee Man, great song.
Sunshine Electric Raindrops. Bright, sunny closing track...perfect end to a great album.
This is a more focused effort than some of his recent work. It's similar to 'Alien Love Secrets' in that there's a lot of relatively straightforward songs, over which he plays some absolutely stunning guitar. His playing is top class all the way through, exhilarating stuff.