Morse & Jennings D'Virgilio
"troika" - a group of three working together toward a common goal Sometime during the lockdown and turmoil of 2020, Neal Morse wrote some songs that seemed to speak of other voices. "So I began thinking about who would be good to sing these songs with me. I was of course primarily thinking about the vocal blend, but then I thought it would be great if all three vocalists were songwriters also and we could contribute to each other's music." So, about three days after Christmas 2020, Ross Jennings (Haken) received an email from Neal asking if he would be interested in the project. As Ross recalls, "I've always been into acoustic, vocal harmony kind of music, so without hesitation, my response to this invitation was a certain and resounding "yes!". It's no surprise that Neal's former Spock's Beard colleague Nick D'Virgilio was also enthusiastic: "Back in the old days of Spock's Beard we used to get done with concerts, get back on the tour bus, and sing CSN songs (there were some Beatles tunes thrown in there, too) until the sun came up! I always had a great time harmonizing with Neal, so I was totally into the idea of the project. Bringing Ross on board was the perfect match: I like how Ross sings very much and he is a super talented guy. Once I heard the demos he sent in for the project, I knew right away we would have something special." Working very much as a troika, each of the three started contributing songs to the album and shaping those that the others had brought. While there is no unifying lyrical concept, there are some political themes included, as Neal explains: "A Change Is Gonna Come" was originally written in the summer of 2020, when things were pretty rough and divisive here in America. It's inspired by Martin Luther King's quote that 'the arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends toward justice.' I simply want to encourage that things will get better." As Neal points out, "While the songs are musically on the simpler side and have more acoustic guitars, there's a lot of instrumentation there in the final mix. I think people will like it in the same way that so many fans love Spock's Beard's June. Most of what this album is all about is the songs, the vibe and the vocal blend - and I'm SO happy with it!" For Ross, the whole process was liberating and inspiring: "Contributing three original pieces to the mix and - as a long time admirer of Neal - co-writing one of those songs with him was a humbling and rewarding experience. I couldn't be more proud to be a part of this record. I love how organic our voices sound together and I believe we've created a very interesting and beautiful album that shows our respective audiences a different side of each of us." Nick also loved working on the project: "Having to focus on simpler songs with three part harmonies in mind was fun to do and I got really inspired. Each of us has our own style, of course, but when the three come together it makes a wonderful sound. I love it!"