Geoff Tate (2002)

It’s often the case that when a frontman records a solo album, it sounds so close to their regular gig that you wonder why he cared to bother. And with Queensryche’s Geoff Tate, whose voice is as distinctive as a fingerprint, it presents an even bigger challenge. Yet on his solo debut he manages the task flawlessly. The overall style is dramatic yet mellow, with hypnotic midtempo melodies and layers of lavish harmonies. “Helpless” incorporates Euro-dance rhythms and Spanish guitars, “The Passenger” is jazzy, and the pretty piano ballad “In Other Words” builds with a lovely string section. “Off the TV” and “Flood” rock a bit heavier, featuring Queensryche-like crashing guitars and Tate’s trademark high notes. If you’re looking for Operation: Mindcrime or Empire revisited, you won’t find it here. But if Geoff Tate’s voice sends shivers up your spine, this may be a contender when you list your favorite albums of 2002.

–Gail Flug