Design By Humans
Published On: Thu, Oct 2nd, 2014

Flying Colors: Second Nature

flying colorsFlying Colors
Second Nature

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With a 12-minute-plus loud multi-shifting opener, “Open Up Your Eyes,”  and an 11-minute-plus ender, “Cosmic Symphony,” bookending Flying Colors’ sophomore release, Second Nature, you know you’re strapping in for some proto-prog commercial stuff from the brilliant players here. The band consists of Neal Morse (Transatlantic, Spock’s Beard) Mike Portnoy (Dream Theater, Winery Dogs), guitarist Steve Morse (Deep Purple, Dixie Dregs, Kansas), bassist Dave LaRue (Dixie Dregs, Joe Satriani, Steve Vai) and newer guy, pop singer-songwriter Casey McPherson.

The shifts of heavy and light from Neal’s piano playing to Steve’s lead runs to what you would expect from Portnoy’s bass pedal flights of fancy inform “Open Up Your Eyes.” “Mask Machine” sees the band relying on some very good backing vocals and LaRue’s heavy, fat notes and in what feels very much like Winery Dog commerciality in the choruses. I like how this tune drives straight ahead with distorted Morse leads and a simple lyric. It could have befitted from being shorter, but overall it’s a good tune. “Bombs Away” grooves with LaRue poppin’ and the first real long Steve Morse wailing. (The middle section here is a real hoot.) Then there’s the Kansas-like jamming on “The Fury of My Love,” which begins with a pretty piano under vocal ballad little droplets, but then we get the full band treatment in overdone choruses.

Let’s face it, these particular guys can play, there’s no doubt about that. The tunes here are solid (slightly longer than they need to be I feel), commercial and fun, but they don’t sparkle as anything spectacular, sorry to say. I was more taken with the raw energy and fun Portnoy pulled out of The Winery Dogs and if I want to hear Kansas…well I’ll go listen to Kansas.

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Flying Colors: Second Nature