Metamorphic is the third release from Clovis Mann and the title aptly suits the band’s resume as the only remaining founder of the power trio, Dan Walkner has had to morph with changes in band members. One year after Dan Plourde replaced bassist Stosh Jonjak, drummer Ethan Noordyk moved to Augusta, Maine. Drummer Jamie Zander and guitarist Pat Ferguson have joined up, making Clovis Mann at least a foursome.
Ferguson, who recently played with Smokin’ Bandits, recorded a track on “The Light,” a gospel-rock sendup that features some slick lead guitar trades with organ supplied by Vince Faris. It’s not clear whether Faris is a full-fledged member at this point but his keyboard skills add a lot of depth and soul to the band’s blues-based rock. Also guesting on Metamorphic is Fat Maw Rooney’s Craig Baumann who adds lead guitar to “Water’s Edge.”Additionally, Walkner has an acoustic Americana duo called Crooked Barn that draws on the same pool of players from time to time.
“Water’s Edge” is a particularly fine song with Walkner taking acoustic and giving the band a distinctively different sound. Baumann gets ample space to stretch is phenomenal soloing abilities.
“No More” is an anti-war stomp in the Hendrix tradition with a smokin’ organ solo from Faris. The track is an excellent example of Clovis Mann’s ability to span the decades as this one could just as easily have sprung from the Vietnam War era.
“Whiff,” co-written by Faris with Walkner, is an interesting rhythmic concept, and is also a bit of a departure for the band. The organ is central here, while the band shifts seamlessly from the syncopated 6/8 phrasing of the intro to the soulful 4/4 of the verse and chorus. Walkner delivers a tasty solo – as he does throughout the album – on this one as well.
Aside from the more sophisticated instrumentation, what really symbolizes Clovis Mann’s metamorphosis is Walkner’s vocals, which have developed a relaxed and heartfelt delivery. His performance on the ballad “Dig Deep” may be his finest recorded vocal to date.
While Clovis Mann retains much of their jam-band heritage, they show signs of evolving into a band that has a bit more depth and staying power, rolling with the punches and emerging all the stronger for it.