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Steve Vai is returning to stake his claim as the ultimate guitar hero with the release of a new studio album and a pre-Christmas UK headline tour.

The multi-talented muso will unleash The Story Of Light on September 11 – following a limited run as a Classic Rock Magazine cover mount CD later this month.

And Vai will play six dates in December to promote one of the most eagerly anticipated  albums of the year. 

The title comes out on Favored Nations Entertainment – the label Vai founded in 1999.

Its 12-song set continues a conceptual and cosmic narrative arc begun on the artist’s acclaimed 2005 album Real Illusions: Reflections, Vai’s previous studio album.

Although The Story of Light is largely instrumental the album does feature guest vocalists including singer songwriter Aimee Mann – duetting with Vai on No More Amsterdam (which she also co-wrote) – and Beverly McClellan, a season one finalist on The Voice (USA).

McClellan appears on John The Revelator, a track inspired by a vintage recording of blues singer Blind Willie Johnson, whose acid soaked vocals are in the mix as well.

Other highlights include the title track, which opens the album, Gravity!Storm, The Moon And I, and Velorum.

The Story Of Light follows the journey of a man driven mad by grief, intertwining tragedy, revelation, enlightenment, and redemption.

Following up the 2009 live album Where The Wild Things Are, The Story Of Light is Vai’s 16th solo effort. In support of its release, Vai will begin a tour of North America on August 15 in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, accompanied by his band – who are also featured on the new album: Dave Weiner (guitar), Jeremy Colson (drums), Philip Bynoe (bass),and Deborah Hensen (harp, vocals, keyboards).

Vai’s UK dates are as follows:

Sat 1st              Portsmouth, Guildhall

Sun 2nd            London, HMV Hammersmith Apollo

Mon 3rd           Wolverhampton, Civic Hall

Wed 5th            Newcastle, City Hall

Thu 6th             Ipswich, Regent

Fri 7th               Manchester, O2 Apollo

Tickets go on sale at 9am on Friday 10th August priced at £27.50 regional / £28.50 London and will be available from www.ticketmaster.co.uk or www.livenation.co.uk