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Neal Morse - One CD (album) cover

ONE

Neal Morse

 

Symphonic Prog

4.10 | 356 ratings

From Progarchives.com, the ultimate progressive rock music website

Lofcaudio
5 stars This is perhaps my favorite album of all time. It has everything that I look for in a great album: great melodies, grandiose epics, compelling theme and stunning musicianship. Morse is often-criticized as being too formulaic in his music and while I might tend to agree, his formula works to perfection on this album. If you like epics, you'll be hard-pressed to find an album that offers up as many solid epics as One as there are 5 tracks that are at least 9 minutes in length.

One is a concept album that encompasses almost the entire message of the Christian faith from the creation of the universe to the idea of eternal bliss in the presence of God. While I happen to enjoy the concept, for purposes of this review I will instead focus primarily on the music as that is ultimately the reason why I like this album so much. Morse does a wonderful job though of creating musical moods to reflect the story that he weaves with the lyrics.

Track 1: The Creation. This 18-minute epic is very good from start to finish, but is especially good from the 13-minute mark on as the music turns appropriately dark and sinister in line with the story being conveyed. Mike Portnoy's distinctive drumming is on full display and he does a really nice job of driving some of the fast sections of this song. Phil Keaggy also provides a nifty guitar solo on this track.

Track 2: The Man's Gone. This short song provides a nice reprieve after the intensity of the previous track. Most of this song establishes a theme which will reoccur at various times throughout the remainder of the album. This tends to be a Morse trademark.

Track 3: Author of Confusion. This song is crazy. Portnoy, Randy George on the bass and Morse on lead guitar and vocals are a whirling dervish of sound on this track. The musicians' technical skills are showcased in this 9-minute track which leaves me breathless due to the intensity and tempo.

Track 4: The Separated Man. Morse continues his love affair with epics with this 18-minute bouquet of musical goodness. I happen to really enjoy this song that despite changing styles a number of times over the course of the song, it flows really well. There are elements of guitar-driven metal, followed by beautiful piano-driven acoustic portions, with a flamenco guitar solo to lead back to some heavier prog metal portions. Morse is a master at putting together a good epic and this track is no exception.

Track 5: Cradle to the Grave. This somber duet between Morse and Phil Keaggy is a nice change of pace. This is probably my least favorite track on the album, mainly due to its AOR/pop style.

Track 6: Help Me/The Spirit and the Flesh. The tempo picks back up with this song as the musicians again are allowed to show off as Morse delivers some nice piano parts along with an impressive acoustic guitar solo, while Portnoy and George push the pace. Morse's emotions really come out in his vocal performance as he ranges from angst to peace from the start to the finish of this song.

Track 7: Father of Forgiveness. This six-minute ballad provides an important step in the album concept from a lyrical standpoint, but is not especially noteworthy from a musical standpoint other than having a nice, memorable melody.

Track 8: Reunion. Morse closes out the album with a fun-filled epic that comes off as a semi-structured jam session. For an album with so many highlights, I love the way this song concludes everything as its upbeat feeling is transferred to the listener. As a prog fan, the musical experience ends on such a satisfying note, that you are tempted to immediately give the disc another spin. I know that sounds a bit overboard, but that's certainly the feeling that it gave me on plenty of occasions.

Morse hits a home run with this release, making it his masterpiece (though his Question Mark album is awfully good as well). In this reviewer's opinion, it's truly a masterpiece and a must-listen for any fan of symphonic prog.

Lofcaudio | 5/5 |

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