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Neal Morse - Sola Scriptura CD (album) cover

SOLA SCRIPTURA

Neal Morse

 

Symphonic Prog

4.18 | 466 ratings

From Progarchives.com, the ultimate progressive rock music website

Tarcisio Moura
Prog Reviewer
4 stars Nice surprise again. I was never a big fan of Neal Morse´s former band where he gained so much fame for (Spock´s Beard), so it did take a long time to actually hear his solo works, specially when one knows he abandoned that group when he became a reborn christian. In most cases this fact means that the lyrics will be about his (or hers) newly discovered religion and/or adoration, acccompanied by fitting music (i.e., gospel music). Fortunalty Morse´s case is quite different (see below). I was enthralled by Transatlantic´s Whirldwind and since that work is much his baby as was Roine Stolt´s, I decided to give a shot at his solo output at last (the fact that those records were highly praised here on PA did help, though).

If anything, his new faith boosted his inspiration, for One and now Sola Scriptura show a great improvement of his songwriting skills. Both albums are way better than anything I heard from Spock´s Beard, and quite closer to Transatlanitc´s, which is a compliment as far as as I ´m concerned. Sola Scriptura is a conceptual album of sorts, telling the story of german reformist Martin Luther and his struggle with his issues with the leaders of Catholic church. Usually I don´t like those albums since very few musicians are able to tell a whole story through an album without sacrifying the music over the text. There are a few notable exceptions to that rule (Pete Townshend´s name springs in mind), and now I can say that Morse is one of those few. The lyrics are well written and heartfelt, but the music is always very well done and can be appreciated alone, if you don´t follow the storyline.

Musicly speaking, what surprised me was the several heavy parts included here, a few of them could be well on any Dream Theatre CD (the presence of ex DT´s Mike Portnoy on the drums is no coincidence). There are only four tracks, and only one,the beautiful ballad Heaven In My heart, is around the 5 minute mark. All the other 3 are above 25 minutes of duration. The music is quite varied, going from typical symphonic prog loaded with excellent keyboars to pretty heavy passages filled with blistering guitar solos, with a few jazzy passages and even a little spanish-like guitars on The Conflict. Although long, those tracks are very well done and melodic. The record flows evenly and is really a great tribute to Morse´s talent both as songwriter and performer. The arrangements are very trasteful and precise. It´s a long CD (almost 76 minutes), but it didn´t give me a boring moment me at all. Morse´s vocals abilities were never his strongest point, but he does sing with passion and conviction, making the singing parts very emotional and fitting to the music.

Production is excellent, with all the instruments very well balanced. It´s hard to believe that such complex and well performed CD was a result of so few musicians (basicly a the trio of Morse on keys and guitars, Portnoy on drums and Randy George on bass, plus a some guests on strings and, most notably, Paul Gilbert on guitar).

Conclusion: another excellent work of Neil Morse! One and Sola Scriptura are brilliant records that should be heard by anyone interested in fine symphonic prog music (regardless of their faith). I´m looking foward to hear more of his solo output.

Tarcisio Moura | 4/5 |

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