With their self-titled 2014 debut, Chicago's Exit Verse announced ex-Karate singer/guitarist Geoff Farina's return to rock music, a world he'd essentially bowed out of after suffering hearing damage from years of heavy playing and constant touring. A number of more acoustic-oriented solo efforts and low-key projects shifted the focus to his well-honed songcraft, but in forming Exit Verse, Farina put all of his pieces together, delivering razor-sharp rockers in a gutsy power trio format. Grant No Glory, the group's follow-up, finds original drummer John Dugan replaced by newcomer Chris Dye, with Pete Croke remaining on board as bassist. More streamlined than their debut, Grant No Glory has a vigorous immediacy in both its production and performance. From the start, the hooks are punchier and there's a refinement that only comes from experienced players who don't waste any notes. Opening the album is lead single "Sleeping in Graceland," whose chunky classic rock riffs set the standard for a hard-driving, smartly crafted set with no shortage of highlights. On "This Machine," another standout, Farina chronicles a lifetime's worth of political unrest with punk fervor and a wizened world-view. The darker-toned blue-collar ode "City Limits" takes a more introspective bent and features some exceptionally nimble fretwork from Farina. The more easygoing rocker "Silver Cup" also offers some sterling guitar work, pairing familiarly bluesy riffs with some inventive soloing that is deceptively flashing without calling attention to itself. As a songwriter, Farina has rarely been so adroit, and in leading Exit Verse he's essentially putting on a clinic on the wonderful efficiency of a classic power trio.
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AllMusic Review by Timothy Monger