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  Real Illusions: Reflections
Artist: Steve Vai  
Label: Epic/Red Ink
Length: 11/55:10

This album contains two legitimate legends in the rock world: guitarist Steve Vai, who has played with countless bands, and has received critical acclaim for his solo work; and bass player Billy Sheehan, whose work with Talas, Niacin, Mr. Big, and others is known throughout the rock world.

Real Illusions is the first of a four disc concept project envisioned by Vai.  The idea is a modern fable, with the story being told out of order, providing glimpses into the life of Captain Drake Mason and the characters he encounters along the way.  Mason has just experienced what can only be termed a spiritual awakening of sorts, which leads him to the necessity of “Building the Church”.  

There is only one problem, though.  Mason may in fact be inventing the whole thing in his mind – he is not all there.  The people he meets along the way (“Freak Show Excess,” “Midway Creatures,” “K’m-Pee-Du-Wee”) do nothing to dispel this feeling.

_Real Illusions_ is an ambitious project, in that it expects its audience to pay attention, follow the story, and assumes they will play along.  The songs themselves stand up on their own, particularly “Dying for Your Love”, but when viewed as whole, they make much more sense.  Vai’s guitar work is as good as always, with bandmates The Breed (Sheehan, Tony MacAlpine, Jeremy Colson, and Dave Weiner) providing a backdrop for Vai to shine in.  The question is, does Vai already have the concept for the next three records on tape, or is this a work in process that can either hold our attention or fall into the law of diminishing returns?  Only time will tell.  For now, this disc will entertain guitar fans, and mystify those who want the rest of the story.

Brian A. Smith
19 February 2005



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