The first thing to understand about this album is that it is essentially an EP, NOT an LP. The eight NEW songs on this album clock in right at 30 minutes. To my way of thinking, that's about 1/2 an album, or one album side.
The new music is worthwhile, if a bit uneven, but for the most part it succeeds in invoking that "more than a" feeling, if only because of the familiar guitar tone. I suspect the new tunes will work their way into my consciousness over time, but I predict that none of them will ever rise to the top like "Long Time," or "Don't Look Back."
The production is a different story. Where Boston's 1976 debut leapt out of the analog grooves and wrapped itself around your brain, the sound here is pretty ... safe. Not bad, just nothing special or new (... or even old ...) Except for the kick, the drums sound like they were recorded from across the room. The vocals are fine, but Brad Delp's (for-the-most-part) absence is definitely felt. (He contributes to parts of three songs on the album.)
Besides the eight new pieces, the other three songs are reworked versions of tunes from "Corporate America," which came out 11 years ago, and which Tom Scholz felt never got a "fair shot" in the marketplace. Song-wise, they are among the strongest of the bunch, and if you missed "Corporate," they will make "Life, Love & Hope" feel like a (nearly) complete new Boston album experience. ("Corporate America" is long out-of-print.)
So, bottom line: a new release from Tom Scholz is good news. This could be better ... but it's better than nothing. Much better. Good enough to tide you over until Supernal Endgame's "Touch the Sky, Volume II" comes out early next year.
(See what I did there?)