Falling In Between
Toto Network/Redeye Distribution (CD-TOTO-001)
Falling In Between, Toto?s first studio album since 1999?s barely noticed Mindfields, finds the band free of major-label constraints and intent on making music that expands on its traditional commercial sound. Surprisingly, Toto recruited several outside players to help accomplish that task, including former bandmates Steve Porcaro on keyboards and vocalist Joseph Williams from the Fahrenheit and The Seventh One era, plus Jethro Tull?s Ian Anderson on flute (?Hooked?), Tom Scott on tenor sax (?Spiritual Man?) and Chicago trombonist James Pankow (?Dying On My Feet?). Chicago vocalist Jason Scheff also sings background on three of this album?s 10 tracks.
Despite the outside help, what places Falling In Between among Toto?s best records is its consistent songwriting. With most of the tracks credited to multiple band members, the album sounds cohesive yet diverse ? and distinctly Toto.
For example, the opening title track proves it?s not too late in the band?s career to head in new musical directions. The liner notes state that Toto strived for a progressive sound on ?Falling In Between? to emulate Led Zeppelin and Yes. Even though they don?t quite succeed, Toto unleash some of their heaviest riffs ever set against a swirl of Middle Eastern overtones as vocalist Bobby Kimball sings from his gut. Similarly, ?Dying On My Feet? goes the other way and finds Toto exploring their cooler, jazzy side more than usual. Elsewhere, ?Taint Your World? summons the band?s inner Van Halen, and ?King Of The World? chronicles the fall of Enron Corp. A new Toto album wouldn?t be complete without a memorable ballad from Steve Lukather, whose voice has aged incredibly well; ?Simple Life,? an ode to his wife, fills that niche here.
?Bottom Of Your Soul,? on the other hand, offers a heartbreakingly fresh take on the tired lyrical topic of world hunger but retreads musical ground covered on ?I Will Remember? from 1995?s Tambu (another little-heard Toto album), and the funked-up ?Let It Go? and ?Hooked? don?t offer much more than filler. Speaking of filler, ?The Reeferman,? a one-minute-and-45-second fusion of trumpet, flugelhorn and percussion courtesy of guest players Roy Hargrove and Lenny Castro, is a bonus track for the United States. But it?s hardly a bonus ? or essential.
As expected, Falling In Between is impeccably produced, and it?s the worthy impetus for a rare U.S. tour this summer. But while Toto remain huge overseas, this album may not be enough to keep them from continuing to fall in between the musical cracks in their homeland.