|Flying Colors - 'Flying Colors' (Provogue Records)|
|Written by Jim Rowland|
|Monday, 23 April 2012 05:15|
Considering this all new Flying Colors project features Mike Portnoy and Neal Morse, two virtuoso musicians renowned for their prog pretensions, you would be forgiven for thinking that this album may well end up a pompous vanity project resulting in them disappearing up their own collective backsides. Add the sublime guitar skills of Deep Purple's Steve Morse and his old Dixie Dregs band mate Dave Larue, it's still on the cards but a bit less likely. In fact, this new band, completed by the lesser known vocalist Casey McPherson, have pooled their talents, left their prog pretensions largely at home, and produced a remarkably fine album that is a satisfying fusion of sophisticated pop, hard rock and prog with a dash of AOR too.
It's unclear at this stage whether 'Flying Colors' is a one-off project or the birth of a new super group, but it contains eleven tracks displaying a good variety of styles and moods, all underpinned by quality musicianship and songwriting. 'Shoulda Coulda Woulda' is a swaggering hard rocker with a hint of Muse to it, 'The Storm' is a great slice of AOR flavoured rock and 'Kayla', one of the album's highlights, is a superb pop rocker with an irresistible strong chorus that'll stick in your head for hours. 'Love Is What I'm Waiting For' is a seventies pop flavoured tune sounding like a fusion of ELO, Queen and Jellyfish and 'Forever In A Daze' injects a seriously funky vibe to proceedings, with some great bass work from Dave Larue. Portnoy shines on the manic 'All Falls Down' and the 12 minute epic album closer 'Infinite Fire' gives the prog fans something to savour.
Steve Morse's guitar work is, not surprisingly, outstanding from start to finish, and the performances are top notch from all concerned, as you would expect. Even though these are all virtuoso musicians at the top of their game, it is perhaps the least well known member of the band that steals the show. Vocalist Casey McPherson has previously worked with the band Alpha Rev, and was put forward for this project by Mike Portnoy. His versatile and emotive voice suits this band down to the ground, gives it that sophisticated pop edge, and the album is chock full of great vocal melodies. McPherson shines particularly brightly on the outstanding 'Everything Changes' - a beautiful song with a superbly written vocal melody and another super strong chorus.
On the strength of this album, it would be an immense shame if there was no more to come from this new supergroup of sorts. There is talk of the band performing live if the individuals' schedules permit, and a further album would be most welcome if this one is anything to go by. This is one test that Flying Colors have most definitely passed.