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Neal Morse - Sola Scriptura CD (album) cover


Neal Morse


Symphonic Prog

4.18 | 599 ratings

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5 stars This album blew me away at first spin when by that time I was actually having so many CDs which would be reviewed. Once I got this album, I practically only played this album everyday in any activity that I had - relaxing at home, cycling to work, in the car ... basically everywhere I go, I always have this album with me. I think this album measures up for any dimension of good prog album from composition, musicianship as well as production. On composition, I always use the following points to review: melody, arrangement, harmonies, and structural integrity / cohesiveness. While on musicianship, I use songwriting, intrument virtuosity / skills, contribution to the music and performance as points of review. There are two things on production: sonic quality of the CD and the packaging.


Judging this album from composition, I have basically no issue at all because everything has been crafted with excellent attention to details by Neal. I sometimes wonder how come Neal is much better doing solo job than his tenure as member of Spock's Beard. Sorry to say, I come to think, how come one person (Neal) can outrule four persons (Alan, Dave, Nick and Ryo) where Neal's solo albums after he left the band are much better than Spock's Beard without Neal. Even worse, I personally love Neal solo than Spock's Beard when Neal was still in the band. I do not intend to demean the existing Spock's Beard because they are inferior than Neal's solo, even though I love "Octane" very much. Spock's Beard latest album (2006) is not measuring up to my expectation. But this "Sola Scriptura" by Neal is almost perfect!

The melody is really excellent where Neal is skillful in selecting correct notes to form touchy melody. The arrangement is also masterpiece because it contains great balance of ups and downs, demonstrating good contribution of each musician in the music. The opening track "The Doors" has an opening track's intro which demonstrates much on drumwork by Mike Portnoy.Usually I got problem with harmonies for Spocks Beard music during Neal era. This time the harmonies are really good in terms of vocals as well as music. There is good flow of music in the opening epic as well as how each song connects one to another, so I would say that the album has an excellent structural integrity.

The opening epic "The Door" (29:14) is a great music by any measure. It kicks off dynamically with a great combination of stunning keyboards and dynamic drumwork backed with grandiose orchestra. The music moves dynamicallly from one segment to another. Neal explores his talent by making the intro part quite long (approximately 5 minutes) before lyrical verse enters the music. This 5-min piece helps elevate the music and sets the tone of the whole album. This is really brilliant! The first piece of introduction is very critical to sell the music in the mind of the listeners.

This opening epic does produce music that tells the whole thing about this album. It s very obvious on who have influenced Neal, musically. There are musical segments which remind us to the music of the Beatles (especially I Want You) as well as those influenced by classical music - especially thru piano work. It is so stunning. The vocal line is also stunning even though this time Neal enters with distorted voice, nicely. The keyboard portion which accompanies his singing is also excellent. The organ solo is also stunning. Neal gives Paul Gilbert quite a long duration to perform solo during interlude. It is so rockin guitar with blues taste. You won't regret at all with this opening epic!

Second track "The Conflict" is another rockin' epic with energetic and powerful guitar solo and riffs. The riffs at the intro part.remind me to Zeppelin-like Kingdom Come especially song called as "17". WOW! This track is a true masterpiece! It combines the power of rock music with blues and moves forward with latin music and jazz. The use of flamenco acoustic guitar work and keyboard helps elevate the music textures. The music is so powerful because it varies from one segment to another without distorting transition pieces. Everything moves smoothly and swiftly from one style to another. Well, I dont think I am able to describe the beauty of the music composition unless you listen to it directly.


With such a long write-up about composition, you will definitely agree with me that Neal Morse is really an excellent.and talented musician. He has approached his composition by exploring all his skillful songwriting and through creating a story line for the album. There are very few musicians that can match Neal songwriting capability. He is not only good as songwriter as he sings and plays keyboard really well. Not only that, he selects the best musicians for his solo albums.


It's highly recommended album. You would find varied styles in the music, blended nicely by Neal to produce axcellent music. The album production is also excellent. "Sola Scriptura" is at par excellent with Neal's previous effort "One". Keep on proggin' ..!

Peace on earth and mercy mild - GW

Gatot | 5/5 |


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