(Trajectory Records) Following a 2014 self-titled debut, Pilgrim’s sophomore album, Neverland, sees songwriter and multi-instrumentalist Paul McHugh joined by bassist Bryan Howard, guitarist Richard Mikulka, drummer Jim Wilson and backing vocalist Vaughn Lamb. The opening title track sets the scene in a music town that holds an illusion of everlasting youth, chugging along through the gritty nightlife with a hardened exterior yet winking self-awareness. After this first impression—not unlike meeting someone at a bar, then getting to know them better once their guard is down—McHugh really finds his stride with Neil Young-like narrations over rock-and-roll songs that shine brightest when the keyboard is given space to run wild. “Night After Night” and standout track “La La Laa,” both inspired by touring, capture the weariness and sacrifice that come with the territory of life on the road but lyrically elevate friendships and memories to be irrefutably worthwhile. After his countless nights touring with The Drive-By Truckers as a crew member, it makes sense that the Southern rock band would’ve made a lasting impression on McHugh’s style, and Heathens will surely find a lot to like here.
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