Clint Carney has accomplished much in his multifaceted career as artist, producer, director, actor, and musician. Aside from his own work as System Syn, Carney has worked as a member of Imperative Reaction, and has collaborated with Brüderschaft, The Parallel Project, and God Module. In addition to his musicianship and touring, Carney’s IMDB page includes work on Santa Clarita Diet, his own film Dry Blood, and Gone Girl. After releasing 2013’s No Sky to Fall, Carney’s music production slowed down as his film work ramped up, but after many years in development, the aptly named Once Upon a Second Act marks a return to familiar territory, but by a slightly different version of the man who once shouted at the world under the moniker System Syn. System Syn has always embraced the darker side of life, like most of Carney’s work; however, Once Upon a Second Act is more mournful than angry. The vitriol found in classics like “Here’s to You” are still present on the album, but a much more restrained Carney has traded angst for tact with his venomous accusations. The arrangements and vocal styles on the record aren’t just a return to a formula, but capture an evolution of style. “Promise” is a mournful, well constructed track that demonstrates Carney’s ability to write harmonies and engaging musical content. While Carney’s talent for catchy choruses has always made the listener begin to sing along by the third or fourth listen, that skill is wielded with tremendous craftsmanship on this record and sets Once Upon a Second Act apart from his previous albums by being the most mature, personal, and masterful demonstration of musicianship. The title track from the record may very well be one of the best songs Carney has ever produced and is all at once beautiful, bombastic, and thoughtful. From the sobering soliloquy of “We Had Time” and “Weightless,” into the album’s final up-tempo track in “Knives,” Carney is at his best, not just musically, but vocally as well. The last quarter of the album is a slow walk through a twilit fog of sorrow and reflection that could upstage any other big name among Carney’s contemporaries. Once Upon a Second Act is Clint Carney’s musical talent at its current apex and is a landmark record that should not be missed.