Things to Do in Fort Wayne and Beyond

D’Virgilio Morse & Jennings: Troika


keith_roman

Whatzup Features Writer

Published March 23, 2022

I listen to and review a lot of progressive rock, meaning I have to listen to a lot of less-than-stellar prog.

I remember an album is not great just because it’s prog. I’m always looking for great songs above all, whether they are three minutes and especially if I’m in it for 30. There is a pantheon of modern prog titans loitering Mount Olympus, playing on each others’ “side projects.”

I was excited to hear Sweetwater’s own Nick D’Virgilio had collaborated with former Spock’s Beard bandmate Neal Morse and included Haken’s Ross Jennings. All three can play anyone under the table, but on Troika, three-part harmonies are the star, and of course, all three are just as skilled at crooning into the pop filter.

By the members’ interviews, the vibe they were going for was kind of Crosby, Stills and Nash. They achieve that peaceful, easy feeling effectively on the first two wonderful tracks, “Everything I Am” and “Julia.” Heck, after listening to these two, was wearing a tie-dye shirt, and I had no idea where it came from.

An entire album of recreating Crosby, Stills Nash & Young’s Deja Vu album might have consigned this project to the “listen to it a couple times” pile, but something quickly emerges, and this album takes on a sound and a life beyond a mere side project. It all goes back to the songs, and man, these are some great songs! 

The only hint of any prog getting past the guards is a tiny bit of mellotron flute on “If I Could.” Well, that, and a bit of Gentle Giantish vocal noodlings at the end of “Another Trip Around the Sun.” 

Getting beyond the acoustic vibe, “King for a Day” reminds us these three are still rockers, prepping us for the Hendrix-esque screaming guitar intro of mega-rawkin’ “Second Hand Sons.”

Everything wraps up beautifully with the reflective, acoustic “What You Leave Behind.” As a bonus track, we are given the full 8:20 version of “Julia” that was trimmed of fat to make the lean single, but it almost seems unnecessary.

I hope this outing morphs into something more than another side project, because there is something magical happening.

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