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Neal Morse - Testimony CD (album) cover

TESTIMONY

Neal Morse

 

Symphonic Prog

4.03 | 340 ratings

From Progarchives.com, the ultimate progressive rock music website

infandous
3 stars Reading back through my previous Neal Morse reviews, I think it's a good thing I waited to get this album until a few months ago. Had I gotten it at time of release, I would have hated it. The reason is obvious, if you've read my previous reviews. The lyrics would have irritated me greatly.

Now, however, I've gotten somewhat used to Neal's typical theme (though still wish he'd change it up every once in a while), and I find that I can listen and not cringe, even in the most worship happy moments. Well, okay, maybe not quite that used to them, but I can deal with the lyrics now much better than I could have back when this was first released.

I must say though, that the very personal nature of this album makes it a lot easier to enjoy. With albums like One and Lifeline I was really not happy with the God and Jesus praising. That, of course, occurs here, but mostly towards the end. Even then, it is appropriate as it shows how the spiritual journey of the album concludes. It makes perfect sense. I'm not a Christian, but I was raised one, and I can relate to spiritual and mental searching and strife, so lyrically, this album actually works well for me (even if I can't relate to the specifics in all cases).

Of course, the music is what should matter most and that turns out to be pretty darn enjoyable, if not really the best I've heard from Neal. I usually make mention of the Patented Neal Morse Prog Formula, and that isn't completely absent here. However, this album has a diversity of styles that can be quite refreshing once you get used to it. Initially, I was expecting more of the same (which I happen to quite enjoy) from Neal, and was disappointed because it all seemed more simplified and more drawn out than his usual material. However, the more I listened, the more I realized how layered the instrumentation is. There are strings and horns all over the album, and the variety of styles springs from that I think. The instrumentals are more like jam sessions, but with many layers and executed with the precision we have come to expect from Morse and his collaborators. The vocal sections are highly melodic, with again, often layered voices of Neal and his guests, with great harmonies. The sonic framework is just different from what you normally expect from Morse solo albums, and Transatlantic and Spock's Beard as well. Of course, there are familiar sounds and approaches as well (the Overtures are the best examples of this), but on the whole it is more varied and diverse than any other Morse album.

On the down side, it's really really long and not every tune shines quite the way it should. Occasionally things seem a bit stretched and I find myself wondering as usual if this double album wouldn't have made a much better single album (and Testimony 2 has proved to me that it very well could have).

On the whole though, this is a unique (for Morse) and very personal album that should appeal to any of his fans, and possibly some who think his style is too stagnant and that he repeats himself. For me, it's a 3 star album, good but non-essential. Actually, it's quite good, but probably only for fans of his other work though possibly also for someone interested in something a bit different. I wouldn't really recommend starting here though, for that I would say the Question Mark album or Sola Scriptura would give a much better feel for his solo work as a whole.

infandous | 3/5 |

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