D'Virgilio Morse Jennings - Troika

Kev Rowland

This project came about with Neal Morse writing some acoustic songs that he thought would be enhanced by strong vocal harmonies, so of course he turned to his old friend Nick D’Virgilio. One must remember that not only have they worked together in bands and on albums, but they have toured Europe together in this format (check out the excellent ‘Nick 'n Neal live in Europe - Two Separate Gorillas’ release from 2000). They have a relaxed camaraderie, and as soon as this commenced I was reminded of the feeling of Neal’s 2001 solo album ‘It’s Not Too Late’, not musically but just with the atmosphere. However, they decided it would be nice to bring in a third voice so they approached Haken's Ross Jennings and collectively pooled their resources, working on each other’s material.

Incredibly this, like many albums from this period, was recorded individually as it really does sound as if all three are in the same studio bouncing off each other. The focus is very much on three-way harmonies, a modern taken on CSN if you like, with the three of them not only providing all the harmonies but whatever instrumentation was required. They move through different styles, and while there is little here which could remotely be thought of as prog, even though that is the genre with which they will always be associated, there is no doubt that fans of Spock’s Beard “June” will soon get into this. But there are times when I think of The Byrds, CSN, and the other great bands who relied on vocal harmonies like this, but interestingly they have kept the accompaniment complex yet simple, so one never thinks of Steely Dan as this is just too clean and acoustic for this.

While there is no doubt that fans of Spock’s Beard and Haken (plus all their other ventures) are going to seek this out, but those who enjoy the classic American vocal harmony rock style also needs to give this is a listen as this is sheer fun throughout.

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