It seemed like a fun idea, fusing four virtuosic big fish with one small-but-talented fish (vocalist/guitarist Casey McPherson) and seeing what happened. Having proved they could write decent tunes, rather than just exchange fiddly solos, album number two was about cementing their kudos as a real band – not a side project.
In places, certainly on first listen, Second Nature seems a little bit mental. From Steve Morse’s searing guitar heroism, to oh-so-proggy tangents in the epic likes of Open Up Your Eyes, a lot is packed in here. Spearheaded by a duo accustomed to progressive odysseys – Transatlantic buddies Neal Morse and Mike Portnoy – this shouldn’t be surprising.
But be not afraid of the synth noodles or the tempo changes, for amid all that trickery lie first-class tunes; owing as much to The Beatles in The Fury Of My Love as anyone else. “Pop with prog overtones”, as Portnoy has said. An eccentric, lush work./o:p