Nobody who’s ever heard Carl Verheyen play, whether solo or in Supertramp, can doubt his guitar-playing aptitude. There are times on The Grand Design when he astonishes. The range of his expression takes in folk (Beyond My Reach), pomp (Live My Days) and Supertramp-style pop rock (Adeline). The album shifts gear from the moody introspection of Intangibles Collide through to the more expansive tenacity of Candy Fame.
And throughout, there’s a feeling that Verheyen is capable of adapting to any style. But this is also something of a hindrance, because there’s a sense here of a collection of songs with no perceived flow. Taken individually, the tracks are thoroughly enjoyable, matching exhaustive musicianship with a respect for melody. But does it work as an album? Not really. It’s as if Verheyen is struggling to find his own personality, simply because he can go across the spectrum. He’s clearly a lot more effective in a band situation, rather than out on his own. However, this is a more than decent release, and the version of Bob Dylan’s evergreen The Times They Are A-Changin’ sums up Verheyen’s talent for finding fresh ways to tell an old story. Classy, if slightly flawed.