June 8, 2018 Will Turpin – Serengeti Drivers (Album Review)
Now 25 years into the game, Will Turpin has lived a life full of musical adventure. Famously known as the bassist for multi-platinum-selling Rock band Collective Soul, Turpin has seen a lot over the years from recording to writing, and touring the world. Humble and gracious for the life he leads, the musician has also explored other creative endeavors in recent years outside the home base of Collective Soul.
Partaking in a solo career, in 2011, he released The Lighthouse, a 5-track EP featuring Collective Soul band-mates Ed Roland, Joel Kosche, and Ryan Hoyle; along with Guitarist Peter Stroud. Now, juggling a busy schedule with Collective Soul, as well as devoting time to family, Turpin unleashes his debut full-length album, Serengeti Drivers.
An album that has been a few years in the making, the Turpin/Jonathan Beckner co-produced record hits the public on Friday, June 8, 2018 through Gooey Records. A passion project where Turpin has devoted every ounce of who he is to, the outcome is 11-new tracks that should not only raise the curiosity of Collective Soul fans, but open their eyes to a different side of the bassist. Now, for those which heard Turpin’s The Lighthouse EP, they may recall the work being a well-crafted selection of Pop piano-laden songs. For Serengeti Drivers, Turpin flips the tape, and offers something new.
Bright, and quite in contrast to its title suggestions, “Demons” has a vibe that resembles Jackson Browne’s “Running on Empty,” making for a colorful, layered beginning. This upbeat feeling continues on with the dancey “All On You” and funky “Belong,” but amidst it all there are various other genre explorations. A student of music, and the son of a father who operated a recording studio, Turpin’s musical pallet is certainly not limited, so why should his music be?
That in mind, there are sounds from all across the board that make up Serengeti Drivers, and truthfully, it would be a disservice to try and package Turpin’s efforts under one label. Sure, there is absolutely a Pop sense to each song, with crisp, punchy production, but if you listen closely, you can almost hear Turpin at work. Imagine a painter carefully stroking color in particular sections of a canva. The brush strokes are pronounced and each song is distinguishable, different, yet acceptable as one whole collection. For example, “Make It Home” is a wonderful Adult Contemporary-like piece, while “One and Done” features edgy guitar work and a Prog Rock undertone. Then “Faith, Hope, Love” flexes a Sophisti-pop muscle, “On and On” has an almost Bluegrass feel, and “Fallen Castle” showcases the more raw textures of Turpin’s voice.
This diversity does not stop there though. There is “So Long,” a somber piece that you can feel the emotion in the piano lead as Turpin lays out the story with his voice. This is before a funky, bluesy guitar takes over for “Belong” and, later, “Those Days” takes on a dreamy Pop Rock style. There is just no limit to what the record offers and “Final Score” could be one of the most dazzling of all with more Prog Rock influence surrounded by a straight-ahead clean piano, among other instrumentation, making for a masterful heartfelt conclusion.
When listening to Serengeti Drivers, it is important to enter with an open mind because you will be exposed to a variety of tempos and styles. Not at all a mish-mosh with no direction, it actually makes for a crisp, yet sincere, feeling throughout. While sometimes art can be self-serving, Serengeti Drivers does not fall victim of such, instead it is a fantastic, thoughtful, and interesting listen from start to finish.
With Collective Soul set for a killer summer tour alongside 3 Doors Down and Soul Asylum, there is no question Turpin is going to be quite busy. Although, he does have a celebratory album release show on the day of release at Madlife Stage & Studios down in Woodstock, Georgia, there is still no news if and when some solo gigs will be announced. Hopes are it will happen, because Serengeti Drivers is a delightful surprise that should not be overlooked. For these reasons, CrypticRock gives this album 5 out of 5 stars.
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