Following on from his 2013 release, The River, Italian songwriter and multi-instrumentalist Marco De Angelis returns with his second album, Next Station. With his previous effort a confident example of accessible melodic prog, Next Station pretty much picks up from where that debut left off. With a combination of latter day Gabriel, early Collins era Genesis and some of Fish’s solo output, there’s an assured and engaging retro, but not too retro feel.

With De Angelis providing everything from guitars, bass and keyboards to mandolin, Chapman stick and Spanish Laud, the only others to feature throughout are drummer Cristiano Micalizzi and backing vocalists Simona Rizzi and Cristiana Polegri, with the latter also adding saxophone on occasion. However, what ensures that the end results are raised to the heights they deserve is the clever decision to employ a trio of guest vocalist across the six songs on display. The opening three, “Freewill”, “Keep Going” and “A Proggy Night In London” (which is much better than its name suggests) being handled rather expertly by Nad Sylvan of The Steve Hackett Band. As you’d expect he adds an air of easy authority to all three, the second of which is a smooth, breezy affair that politely goes about burrowing deep in the memory. Opening track, “Freewill” is likewise in pace but a little more forceful in execution, as the combination of guitar, keys and voice mesh together in a totally believable fash ion. “A Proggy Night In London” offers up the album’s first epic journey, fourteen minutes of cleverly paced, if relaxed meanderings, ebbing and flowing through instrumental sections. However, what hits hardest is the ability of De Angelis to write captivating, dramatic music without packing it with gimmicks, or overtly technical passages. In truth you could call it all a little uneventful if it wasn’t for the fact that it’s so damn enjoyable. Which is very clever indeed. Robbie Wyckoff (Roger Waters Band) steps in for the vocals on “Back Again” and the album’s title track. With the former his poised delivery is perfect for what in the wrong hands could have been a dirge of a song, so patient is it to reveal its message. The strongest comparison here being that of Ray Wilson after his time with Genesis. “Next Station” is where Polegri’s sax comes into play and adds a Pink Floyd-like lilt to proceedings as strings murmur melodically in the background. At thirteen minutes plus, that only the final three minutes burst into a gyrating riff and pleasing layers of falsetto vocals illustrate once more the manner in which De Angelis covers a huge amount of ground without ever really doing all that much. Leaving Yngwie Malmsteen (and many others) man Goran Edman to board the “Last Train”, an unassuming closer to an unassuming album. Much as his debut did, with Next Station, Marco De Angelis really has managed to pull together an involving and varied album that somehow feels much more eventful than close scrutiny actually reveals; something I say much more as a compliment than a complaint. For while Next Station may be short on excitement, it is overflowing with class and passion, which by anyone’s reckoning is an impressive combination.

Track Listing
1. Freewill.
2. Keep Going.
3. A Proggy Night In London.
4. Back Again.
5. Next Station.
6. Last Train.
Added: June 30th 2018
Reviewer: Steven Reid
Score: 4stars

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