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Neal Morse - Lifeline CD (album) cover


Neal Morse


Symphonic Prog

3.14 | 292 ratings

From, the ultimate progressive rock music website

3 stars Let me preface this review by admitting to being a rather big fan of Neal Morse's music, whether it be his solo output or his work with Spock's Beard and Transatlantic. I have enthusiastically given two of his solo albums 5-star ratings (One and ?) and been amazed at the volume of music he is able to write, record and produce in a short period of time. However, I think there is perhaps a noticeable downside to being such a prolific songwriter: the similar musical nuances that inevitably get re-used in a short period of time before the overall music style has a chance to sufficiently evolve. More than any artist I can think of, Morse gets blamed for self-plagiarizing and I believe this to be warranted. Morse makes it fairly obvious in his music where his influences lie and lately, he seems to be most influenced by his own past work.

I say all this in my review of Morse's latest release, Lifeline, since on the first few listens it is fairly distracting how much this sounds like a mesh of Snow, V, Sola Scriptura and One. I remember the first time I listened to Riverside's first album, Out of Myself. In my first few listens to that album, I felt like I was listening to a Pink Floyd cover band that had switched some words around and thrown in some growls for good measure. But after getting deeper into that album, that feeling went away and it sounded more like...Riverside. Unfortunately, with Lifeline, I just can't shake that deja vu feeling as some of the passages are just too similar, if not exactly the same as previous Morse music.

The album starts off with a fairly good song in the title track, Lifeline. It runs for over 13 minutes and moves at a great pace making it seem like a much shorter song. As others have noted, it sounds much like the opening tune from the One album (The Creation). This song has grown on me nicely since I first heard it and I pretty much enjoy it from start to finish.

The next four songs are all between 4 and 6 minutes and aren't especially noteworthy, with the exception of Leviathan which is just quirky enough to raise your eyebrows. While the tempo of Leviathan is reminiscent of Author of Confusion from One, this is the most unique song on the album and is another big grower. As I said, the other three are "lost in the shuffle" as they are typical Morse ballads in that they have nice tunes, uplifting lyrics and the usual acoustic guitar solo similar to the one in "We All Need Some Light".

"So Many Roads" is the big epic. For whatever reason, I'm just not that crazy about it. As a Morse fan, I usually absolutely love his long epics, but this one just doesn't quite measure up. It doesn't seem to have those bone-chilling moments that I have come to expect and get in good supply in All of the Above, The Great Nothing, The Creation, The Separated Man, The Door, ?, etc. etc. etc.

"Fly High" finishes the album off and is perhaps the catchiest tune on the whole album. Weighing in at six minutes and change, it leaves a great taste in my mouth at the conclusion and does not seem to have all the sameness that plagues much of this album.

While I think there is lots of great music on this album, I cannot give it more than three stars. I actually think this album will be better received by people not familiar with Morse's other music, as they won't be distracted by the similarities to Morse's previous work.

Lofcaudio | 3/5 |


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