D'Virgilio, Morse & Jennings - Sophomore

Kev Rowland

As one can see from the title here is the follow-up to the debut from Nick D’Virgilio, Neal Morse and Karl Jennings. Until I was looking through my records I had forgotten I had reviewed ‘Troika’, and when I re-read the review I had to smile as I had pretty much the same feelings over this one as I did with that. I was again very much reminded of Neal’s second solo release, ‘It’s Not Too Late’, while CSN are the main band influence. Triple harmonies are heard throughout, with everyone taking turns in providing the lead. Three singers, three guitarists, two bassists, two keyboard players but just one drummer, it is amazing what sounds can be produced from a trio when everyone is a multi-instrumentalist and a great performer. Last time around the album was recorded separately due to the pandemic but given there is a live in studio video of “The Weary One”, I am guessing they were able to be in the same place this time around.

I have been a fan of Morse ever since I came across the original independent release of ‘The Light’, and then searched for anything to do with Spock’s Beard, picking up his album with Nick along the way and always loved the way they harmonised and worked together in concert. Adding Haken’s Karl Jennings to the mix is a stroke of genius as the third layer of harmonies takes this to a totally different level. The album has nothing to do with prog, apart from having prog musicians involved, as throughout this has much more of a modern country feel, with The Eagles having an influence here and there, with a series of shorter, wonderfully constructed songs than one would expect from any of their multiple individual projects. While there is plenty of acoustic guitars, we also have some nice crunch here and there, with the different composers all making their presence felt, and overall I think this is a better-balanced album than the debut. Well worthy of investigation from those who enjoy multiple harmonies, country and straightforward rock.

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