Flying Colors – Second Nature
Release Date: September 30th, 2014
“It is not the beauty of a building you should look at; it’s the construction of the foundation that will stand the test of time.” – David Allan Coe.
A musical group’s foundation is quite surely dependent on the first spark of chemistry that ignites through their first album. If successfully executed, the next album is sure to be a step above the predecessor. Here, we have the musical super-group, Flying Colors, coming out with their sophomore album, Second Nature. I was really eager to hear what the virtuosic quintet had cooked up this time, and boy did they not let me down.
The record spins off with “Ópen Up Your Eyes”, that has Neal Morse playing an endearing piano intro that escalates to the band’s arithmetic progressive, yet groovy sound. First half into the song, both Neal and Steve Morse, and Mike Portnoy have been more than just impressive with the keys, lead, and the drums complexly tap dancing their way to doing what they do best. Shortly after, Dave LaRue joins the party by injecting his groovy, noodled up bass line into this song. Vocalist Casey McPherson does a great job to gel along with what was already a great instrumental display, into what one can now call, a complete song. Steve Morse’s double solo act in this song is like cream on fresh red strawberries summing up the prodigality of the band, towards the end.
The second track, was in fact the first one to be released by the band as a music video, “Mask Machine”. This one begins with Dave setting up the tone of the song through his bass intro. While primarily rock, it border lines over a progressively melodic, funky and groovy sound. Casey’s vocals on this one comes with a harder, much more imposing x-factor making it a compelling, feet tapping, zesty tune. Needless to say, Steve Morse’s guitar work; the riffs and the solo work is magical yet again, to say the least. The rest of the album takes you on a diversified journey across every nook and corner of rock music. “Bombs Away” relies on the heavier side of rock, “The Fury of my Love” is one of the most soulful ballad rock songs of today, and “A Place in your World” is a wonderful song to sing along to.
The last three songs knock the album off its perch and gets it to the pinnacle, the best the band has come out with thus far. “One Love Forever”, has all the elements of a compelling track. It begins with a merry ol’ country intro that transitively aligns with the tone and tempo of the song. The riff here is emphasized on the keys and the synths, making it a more melodic, and jovial mannered track. Although, Steve Morse does rip his solo to make it even better. “Peaceful Harbor” begins with the calm, soothing voice of Casey, naturally followed by the acoustic accompaniment of Steve Morse. This is a slow, serene, and tranquil song that gets you lost in the contemplation of your train of thought. The lead guitar work here is commendable and complements the song greatly. Casey still takes the cake for an immensely pleasing vocal performance throughout the song. It concludes anthem-styled, the vocalist and lead guitarist in a duel from different aspects, meeting at one single standpoint. Just, immaculately perfect.
The last song, “Cosmic Symphony” in my opinion is the best song off the record and what better place to put it, than in the end? Leave the best for the last they say, and they did indeed. The first half of the song maintains a similar tempo, with flashes of Dave LaRue flicking them bass strings seductively, enticing you into the spacial mood the song gets you into. About half way through the song, after Steve’s thrilling solo, the tempo dies down, and the calm is revisited. Steve’s licks sync in beautifully along with Casey’s singing. It ends with a soft keys outro, following the teary guitar work.
Second Nature sure has reached the levels of the previous album, considering, that itself was a mammoth record to beat. Two points I noted down was the missing tweak of jazz that was more evidently present in the previous record. A few songs in this record might bore some of poor attention span, hinting a mere tinge of a monotonous feel to the typically unique sound that both Neal and Steve Morse possess. Not a let down, rather just an observation. Another thing I loved about the previous album that hasn’t yet hit me the same way here, is how a listener can relate to certain songs; “The Storm” is a simple rock song, yet the most compelling and emotional song by the quintet courtesy the lyrics, vocals and the lead. Similarly, “A Place in your World” does an almost good enough job to substitute that factor in this record. Quite frankly, these two nimble points were the only suggestions I had with the album.
Overall, this full length proves yet again as to why progressive rock has to be more in the limelight, and more appreciated. But I guess we listeners and the artists themselves prefer quality over the quantity of fans. This album is for everyone into progressive rock music, and also for the ones stuck up in the old school abyss looking for new, genuine music rooting back to classic rock itself. I guess something I loved about the album the most is the team work, the chemistry the way they fuse in, is just remarkable, and rare, may I point out. Five lives, overflowing with experiences, knowledge, skill and creativity have unanimously sculpted this majestic album, and all I can say is we’d be honored to hear more and increasingly better music from the respective musicians. For Flying Colors making extraordinary progressive music is Second Nature.
Written by Owais Vtek Nabi with Vishaal Gollerkeri