About five years ago I came across Darrel’s debut solo album, ‘Celestial’, reviewed it, and since then we have been in contact on and off. He is probably best-known as being keyboard player in the mighty Ten, but he also works with Nth Ascension and has released a couple of other solo albums as well. Released in 2016, I was somewhat expecting this to follow on from ‘Celestial’, but instead, he has brought together musicians and singers to create something that is far more progressive, and far less ambient, than his previous solo effort. I did smile to myself when reading the sleeve notes for my favorite song on the album, the instrumental “Riding The Waves”, which has more than a hint of Colosseum II about it, although brought up to date. Darrel dedicates it to his father, a trawlerman from Fleetwood: on my mother’s side I can trace many generations of trawlermen from Brixham, and here in my study there is a slate clock awarded to my great-grandfather 100 years ago for winning the trawler race in BM 16, the Glory.

Compare the driving rock power of that song with the beautiful piano piece “Nexus Pt.2”, which features just Darrel on piano and voice, and the difference is dramatically stark, but that is the joy of this album in that one never knows what is coming next. “Twilight” has Darrel moving onto bass and mandolin as well as keyboards, with Alan Taylor providing vocals in a baritone that totally fits with the music. It is hard to describe just how the fretless bass, strident guitar and softly spoken/sung vocals (John Power) on the title track fit together so seamlessly. This feels like a very personal album in so many ways, with Darrel allowing himself to move where his inspiration takes him, never compromising to fit into any particular genre, with folk having as much an impact as jazz, classical as much as rock, yet all being brought together in a way that fits perfectly. Far more contemporary than his debut solo album, this is a mature album from a musician confident in his own abilities, and it shows. http://darreltreece-birch.com

8/10 Kev Rowland