Dave Kerzner – The Traveler (Album Review)

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Where progressive rock and Sci-Fi meet, you’ll find Dave Kerzner. First launching into the prog-rock stratosphere with Simon Collins in Sound of Contact, Kerzner has continued his fascination with interstellar story-lines throughout his solo career, even forming a separate super-group – In Continuum – to tell more tales. On his third album attributed solely to his name, Kerzner continues the plot of a character introduced in previous albums but to the casual listener this facet can happily fly above their head while just enjoying good music. Simply put, “The Traveler” is Kerzner’s most direct and accessible album yet, a good move at this point in his career and one which will likely be embraced by most fans.

For anyone following Kerzner’s discography, the lineup of featured musicians comes as no surprise: Fernando Perdomo’s guitars (and occasional bass) ring out everywhere, two of the best drummers in the business provide most of the percussion, Durga McBroom is often present with backing vocals, and a string of familiar guests join in from track to track. Together they support this thematic album which travels time forwards and backwards, repeating themes to tie it all together and delivering a great ride along the way.

“Another Lifetime” is an uplifting opener, a well-arranged piece that starts with a simple yet satisfying theme, elevated by the incomparable percussion of Marco Minnemann. Joe Deninzon adds much to the overall landscape in subtle ways on his electric violin while Perdomo’s insistent bass playing is always a treat. A lovely solo section finds Perdomo’s guitars interweaving with Deninzon’s violin to great effect before returning to the triumphant chorus. Closing fills from Minnemann are always a good choice…and we’re off to the races (er…outer spaces)!

It’s particularly satisfying to followup a strong opener with a killer second track that hits a different vibe. “Ghostwritten Fables” is spot on, offering plenty of moodiness and spaciousness for Minnemann to go to town – this track is kind of worth it just for his performance alone. It also offers a slightly different musical approach than the rest of the album, making it a standout track. The protagonist’s story continues as the lyrics seem to conjure the spirit of “Keep It Dark”, a galactic tale from one of Kerzner’s prime influences: Genesis. That inspiration comes even more to the fore on the “Abacab”-dripping “A Time In Your Mind”. I love how the virtuosic drumming of Minnemann in “Fables” segues into the Collins-flavored hits of Nick D’Virgilio with a brilliant cross-fade between the songs. Little touches like that make this much more than just a collection of songs. With layers of vocals and a superlative drum performance from D’Virgilio, it’s hard not to wake up and take notice.

“The Traveler” album artwork by Rafal Olbinski

“Better Life” is one of Kerzner’s best straight-ahead pop songs yet, featuring an addictive chorus and great guitar work from Perdomo and guest Francis Dunnery. Even adding in a little vocal melodic tip of the hat to “Live And Let Die”“you know he did, you know he did, you know he did.” It nicely segues into “Cannot Get It Back”, bridged by McBroom’s backing vocals, a more relaxed breather that leans on a bouyant bass line. “Feels Like Home” feels like classic Kerzner, with a chorus that will stick with you and a brief cameo from Jon Davison making it another rewarding song on this album, one of the best, actually.

Everyone gets their Genesis ya-ya’s out on “Here And Now Part Two”, a retro cinematic show that features a strong Kerzner vocal delivery and plenty of scorching keyboard sounds from his newly-acquired Tony Banks keyboard rig. Yes, it’s the genuine article! It’s a pleasure hearing vintage sounds and inspiration brought to life in new compositions as good as this. The song still clocks in at under 5 minutes, reflecting the compact nature of the whole album even though it retains an epic feel.

This is the “standard version” of “The Traveler” – an extended cut is still forthcoming – and it’s refreshing to hear such an immediate and direct recording from Kerzner. All of his previous albums have run over an hour (some much longer) but this format really works, especially with material this strong. While there will undoubtedly be more tales from outer space yet to come, “The Traveler” finds Kerzner grounded and inspired. Enjoy the trip.

Released By: Independent
Release Date: July 10th, 2022
Genre:  Progressive Rock

Musicians:

  • Dave Kerzner / Lead vocals, keyboards, acoustic guitars and drum programming
  • Fernando Perdomo / Guitar on all tracks, bass on tracks 1, 4, 6
  • Francis Dunnery / Guitar on track 6
  • Randy McStine / Guitar on tracks 5, 7 and 9
  • Nick D’Virgilio / Drums on tracks 3, 4, 5, 6, 7 and 9
  • Marco Minnemann / Drums on tracks 1 and 2
  • Alex Cromarty / Drums on track 8
  • Stuart Fletcher / Bass on track 8
  • Matt Dorsey / Bass on tracks 2, 5, 7 and 9
  • Billy Sherwood / Bass on tracks 5, 7 and 9
  • Jon Davison / Vocals on track 8
  • Durga McBroom / Backing vocals on tracks 3, 4, 6, 7 and 8
  • Alex “Yatte” Chod / Backing vocals on tracks 1, 3
  • Joe Deninzon / Violins and Violas on tracks 1, 2, 5 and 9
  • Ruti Celli / Cello on tracks 1, 2, 5 and 9

“The Traveler” track-listing:

1. Another Lifetime
2. Ghostwritten Fables
3. A Time In Your Mind
4. For Granted
5. Here and Now Pt. 1
6. Better Life
7. Cannot Get It Back
8. Feels Like Home
9. Here and Now Pt. 2

“The Traveler” is now available for purchase here

 
 
 
 

8.6 Excellent

Confident, direct and inspired describes Dave Kerzner’s third solo album, a recording brimming with strong melodic ideas and well-executed performances. Kerzner continues to corner the market of sci-fi prog and with music this heavenly, the universe appears to be in good hands

  • Songwriting 9
  • Musicianship 9
  • Originality 7.5
  • Production 9
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