Progarchives, the progressive rock ultimate discography

NEAL MORSE

Symphonic Prog • United States


From Progarchives.com, the ultimate progressive rock music website

Neal Morse picture
Neal Morse biography
Neal R. Morse - Born August 2, 1960 (Van Nuys, California, USA)

As a young musician, Neal's dream was like many others-to find success in the pop music world. But after years of struggling in the LA singer-songwriter scene, he realized that his dream would not materialize. Eschewing conventional wisdom, Neal took a courageous step: he about-faced and devoted himself to progressive rock, the music truly in his heart. The obscure and fiercely competitive genre held little chance of commercial success. Undaunted, he formed the quirkily-named SPOCK'S BEARD with his brother, Alan. They recorded The Light with what money they could scrape together. Against all odds, it was a breakout success, sending shockwaves through the small genre's community.

Over the next 10 years, Spock's Beard released 10 critically acclaimed CDs and 2 concert DVDs, ascending to the top of the "prog" world. Neal also released 6 CDs and 3 DVDs with TRANSATLANTIC, the heralded prog "supergroup" comprised of the world's finest prog musicians. The proverbial wayward son, Neal had finally found the success he dreamed of. But something was missing. While on the outside Neal had it all; on the inside, something was missing. Morse came to realize that for him, embracing the Christian faith was the fulfillment of his spiritual quest. His walk was at once gradual and sudden-and like with so many, completely unexpected. As he continued, his path increasingly revealed more of what his heart had sought all along. Yet he also began to find his career growing at odds with his faith. The rising spiritual tension and increasing commercial success finally came to a head with the release of Snow (2002), Spock's Beard's (with Morse) magnum opus.and swan song.

The extraordinary 2-CD rock opera, composed by Morse, was widely acclaimed as the group's finest. But it was the end of the era: Neal made the agonizing decision to leave Spock's Beard. After also leaving Transatlantic, the transformation was complete. Despite having finally achieved the success he had long sought, Morse began all over again; musically, emotionally and spiritually. Neal then embarked upon the most ambitious musical project of his career. Entitled Testimony (2003), it chronicles his spiritual and musical journey in words and music. The 2 CD set (3 CDs for the Special Edition) spans over two hours as one continuo...
read more

NEAL MORSE forum topics / tours, shows & news


NEAL MORSE forum topics Create a topic now
NEAL MORSE tours, shows & news Post an entries now

NEAL MORSE Videos (YouTube and more)


Showing only random 3 | Show all NEAL MORSE videos (1) | Search and add more videos to NEAL MORSE

Buy NEAL MORSE Music



More places to buy NEAL MORSE music online

NEAL MORSE discography


Ordered by release date | Showing ratings (top albums) | Help Progarchives.com to complete the discography and add albums

NEAL MORSE top albums (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

3.16 | 135 ratings
Neal Morse
1999
2.77 | 105 ratings
It's Not Too Late
2001
4.05 | 485 ratings
Testimony
2003
4.11 | 509 ratings
One
2004
4.20 | 655 ratings
? [Aka: Question Mark]
2005
2.92 | 61 ratings
God Won't Give Up
2005
2.31 | 50 ratings
Lead Me Lord - Worship Sessions Volume 1
2005
2.78 | 50 ratings
Send The Fire - Worship Sessions Volume 2
2006
2.94 | 87 ratings
Morse, Portnoy & George: Cover To Cover
2006
2.56 | 52 ratings
Songs From The Highway
2007
4.19 | 675 ratings
Sola Scriptura
2007
2.55 | 40 ratings
Secret Place - Worship Sessions Volume 3
2008
3.15 | 299 ratings
Lifeline
2008
2.63 | 43 ratings
The River - Worship Sessions Volume 4
2009
2.58 | 36 ratings
Mighty To Save - Worship Sessions Volume 5
2010
4.00 | 603 ratings
Testimony 2
2011
3.97 | 459 ratings
Momentum
2012
2.90 | 60 ratings
Morse, Portnoy & George: Cover 2 Cover
2012
3.44 | 32 ratings
The Prog World Orchestra: A Proggy Christmas
2012
2.95 | 88 ratings
Songs From November
2014
3.79 | 315 ratings
The Neal Morse Band: The Grand Experiment
2015
4.13 | 468 ratings
The Neal Morse Band: The Similitude Of A Dream
2016
2.57 | 37 ratings
To God Be The Glory
2016
2.67 | 57 ratings
Life & Times
2018
3.91 | 304 ratings
The Neal Morse Band: The Great Adventure
2019
3.74 | 125 ratings
Jesus Christ The Exorcist
2019
2.94 | 17 ratings
Morse/Portnoy/George: Cov3r To Cov3r
2020
3.80 | 107 ratings
Sola Gratia
2020
0.00 | 0 ratings
NMB: Innocence & Danger
2021

NEAL MORSE Live Albums (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

3.20 | 15 ratings
Nick 'n Neal - Two Separate Gorillas - Live In Europe - The From The Vaults Series Volume 2
2000
3.78 | 60 ratings
? Live
2007
4.40 | 93 ratings
So many Roads
2009
4.41 | 84 ratings
Testimony Two - Live In Los Angeles
2011
4.74 | 14 ratings
The Neal Morse Band: The Great Adventour Live in Brno - 2019
2020

NEAL MORSE Videos (DVD, Blu-ray, VHS etc)

4.47 | 95 ratings
Testimony Live
2004
4.36 | 95 ratings
Sola Scriptura and Beyond
2008
4.45 | 60 ratings
Live Momentum
2013
3.72 | 35 ratings
Morsefest! 2014: Testimony & One Live
2015
3.99 | 37 ratings
The Neal Morse Band: Alive Again
2016
3.92 | 21 ratings
Morsefest 2015
2017
3.81 | 19 ratings
The Neal Morse Band: The Similitude of a Dream - Live in Tilburg 2017
2018
4.50 | 10 ratings
Morsefest! 2017: Testimony Of A Dream
2018
3.27 | 7 ratings
Jesus Christ The Exorcist - Live at Morsefest 2018
2020

NEAL MORSE Boxset & Compilations (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

2.78 | 32 ratings
The Transatlantic Demos
2003
1.96 | 7 ratings
Sing It High
2007
3.72 | 11 ratings
One Demos
2007
3.00 | 2 ratings
The Grand Experiment Demos (Inner Circle March 2016)
2016
3.05 | 3 ratings
Hope and a Future
2020
3.00 | 6 ratings
Morse/ Portnoy/ George: Cover to Cover Anthology (Vol. 1-3)
2020

NEAL MORSE Official Singles, EPs, Fan Club & Promo (CD, EP/LP, MC, Digital Media Download)

2.10 | 24 ratings
Merry Christmas From The Morse Family
2000
2.90 | 20 ratings
A Proggy Christmas
2011
0.00 | 0 ratings
Morsefest 2016 Storytellers (Pt. 1) - Inner Circle March 2018
2018
0.00 | 0 ratings
Morsefest 2016 Storytellers (Pt. 2) - Inner Circle May 2018
2018

NEAL MORSE Reviews


Showing last 10 reviews only
 It's Not Too Late by MORSE, NEAL album cover Studio Album, 2001
2.77 | 105 ratings

BUY
It's Not Too Late
Neal Morse Symphonic Prog

Review by lukretio

2 stars Neal Morse's solo career started with a couple of albums that are quite different from the type of releases that will characterize his solo discography after he left Spock's Beard in 2002. His first solo album, the self-titled album he released in 1999, bore only faint traces of progressive rock, focusing instead on a lighter pop-rock sound that only occasionally veered into prog territories. His follow-up release, 2001's It's Not Too Late, is even less prog-inclined. It is a largely acoustic album, built around simple, singer-songwriter tunes that prefer emotional directness and melodic accessibility over technical wizardry and structural complexity.

Oddly, this is an album that I like and at the same time dislike more than Morse's 1999 solo debut. I like it better than his first album because it feels more honest and authentic. It does not try to strike a balance between Morse's simple pop ambitions and his progressive rock "day job", but it fully embraces his singer-songwriter sensibilities, presenting a collection of acoustic tunes written by Morse between 1980s and the months prior the release of the album. However, among the record's 13 songs, I only find a handful of tunes that I can say I truly like. Most tracks are fairly anonymous and inoffensive light pop numbers that disappear from my musical memory as soon as the album moves on to the next song. Others are fun to listen to, but feel quite derivative and make me almost feel as if I were listening to a bar band rather than to one of the greatest prog rock musicians of our times ("So Long Goodbye Blues", "Ain't Seen Nothing Like Me"). Other tracks are just plain boring, as they lack a strong melody to carry them through ("The Eyes of the World").

The tracks I fully enjoy are few and far in between. "I Am Your Father" is one of them. This is a song Morse had written with his old band from the 1980s, which in fact accompanies the singer on this re-recorded version of the tune. It is a very emotional pop-rock number, driven by Morse's piano and powerful vocal delivery and enriched by some poignant lyrics about fathership. "Something Blue" is the other highlight of the record for me. It's a more uptempo number graced by a gloriously catchy chorus that elevates the song to a different level.

There's not much going on instrumentally throughout the album. Morse's superb piano playing shines in some of the song and Nick D'Virgilio precise and sophisticated drumming is always a pleasure to listen to. But the songs feature intentionally simple and essential arrangements that leave little space for musical showmanship.

In short, there's virtually no prog on this one, just a collection of simple and mostly acoustic tunes that are often pleasant, but rarely extraordinary. Morse is a great player, singer and songwriter, so it is really hard to find parts of his discography that are tout court bad, and It's Not Too Late is no exception. Yet, this is probably among the weakest albums released by the man, and, unless you are a hardcore Morse's fan or a completionist, you may want to skip this one and save your money for one of the other albums in Morse's rich discography.

 Neal Morse by MORSE, NEAL album cover Studio Album, 1999
3.16 | 135 ratings

BUY
Neal Morse
Neal Morse Symphonic Prog

Review by lukretio

2 stars Neal Morse's first couple of solo albums are a different beast compared to his day-job band Spock's Beard as well as to the prog tour-de-forces he will release later in his solo career. His self-titled solo debut album, released in 1999, is a lighter, piano-based affair that properly delves in progressive rock territory only in his final composition, the 4-part mini-epic "A Whole Nother Trip". The rest of the album is built around simple pop-rock singer-songwriter tunes with lean and uncomplicated structures, big choruses and an instrumentation that often simply relies on acoustic guitars and piano. Nevertheless, Morse's signature melodies and songwriting style are still there, so that a fairly accurate description of the album would be to say that it sounds a lot like the more straightforward and poppy episodes that one can find here and there on Spock Beard's albums.

The eight songs of the album flow away pleasantly, although there is no masterpiece in sight throughout its 55+ minutes. One would think that the nearly 24 minutes of "A Whole Nother Trip" represents the centrepiece of the record. This may have been the intention, but the song is just a pale version of the prog epics that Morse is more than capable of writing. The piece lacks somewhat cohesion, as its four movements pull the song in too many different directions without providing enough musical glue to keep them all together. Moreover, not all movements are equally inspired, with the second one "Mr. Upside Down" resulting particularly bland and without a strong melodic punch. This is a general problem for other songs on the album as well: tracks like "Lost Cause" and "That Which Doesn't Kill Me" are somewhat weak melodically, which is surprising given that Morse is usually a highly skilled composer of melodies. Things are better on the uptempo pop-rocker "Nowhere Fast" and the emotional ballad "Landslide". Another remarkable moment is the gently acoustic piece "Emma", which leaves a mark on the listener's psyche thanks to its heart-breaking story of childhood love.

Morse's performance on the album is as strong and skilled as one would expect it to be. He takes care of vocals and all instruments except drums, which are played by his Spock's Beard bandmate Nick D'Virgilio on all tracks but the opener. The musicianship is therefore sublime. The sound production is also excellent, which is impressive seeing how a lot of the music was recorded by Morse in his home studio.

Despite its undeniable qualities, the biggest limit of this record is probably its ambivalence. The album is half-pop, half-prog, but its prog elements are somewhat dumbed-down and its pop appeal is diminished by melodies that are not catchy and immediate enough. I wish Morse had gone more decidedly in either of these directions, either full?scale pop-rock singer-songwriter (as he will do in his sophomore solo release It's Not Too Late) or full-blown prog extravaganza (as he will do in the rest of his solo career, minus the worship albums). As it is, this album is too humdrum to appeal to progressive audiences and probably too intricate to be enjoyed as a simple singer-songwriter affair.

 Sola Gratia by MORSE, NEAL album cover Studio Album, 2020
3.80 | 107 ratings

BUY
Sola Gratia
Neal Morse Symphonic Prog

Review by kev rowland
Special Collaborator Honorary Reviewer

4 stars While the title of this album obviously has links back to 2007's 'Sola Scriptura', which was about the life of Martin Luther, and this is about the apostle Paul, it is actually all due to a misunderstanding. Morse says, "I was talking to my wife Cherie about debuting this new piece at Morsefest 2020 (Morse's annual fan convention in Nashville) and she said she thought it would be good for me to do a solo album. However, I thought she said, 'Sola album' and ? because some of the new ideas involved Paul's aggressive pursuit of the early Christians, I could see a link to some of the themes of persecution in 'Sola Scriptura'." Unlike his other albums, this was recorded virtually due to lockdowns, with Randy George and Mike Portnoy remotely adding their parts to the basic tracks, without any rearrangements, which is why this led to being credited to Neal Morse and not The Neal Morse Band. Normally the whole band works together on the writing, and while Eric Gillette plays some guitar and Bill Hubauer keyboards, neither provided any input to the composition nor do they sing.

Mind you, given that Neal is a multi-instrumentalist who is as happy on keyboards as he is on guitar, that is not really an issue when it comes to putting together an album. This finds him very much in his element, telling a Christian story but in his own way, with all the bombast and bluster that one expects from him. After the disappointment of the theatrical 'Jesus Christ The Exorcist', and the fun compilation 'Cov3r To Cov3r', here is a composer and performer very much back on form. While it may not have the emotional power of 'Testimony', it is unlikely that will ever come again as it was such an incredible outpouring (being at his London show on that tour is something I will never forget), it certainly demonstrates he is very much back in his element. He has moved on from the overtly Spock's Beard style which came through his early solo albums, as one would expect, and he had broadened the approach so while he provides plenty of bombast at times, and wonderful proggy interludes there are also some great singalongs with "Building A Wall" possibly being one of his most overtly commercial songs for some time.

I have been a fan of Neal since I first heard 'The Light' and have been lucky enough to interview him a few times and seen him play both with the Beard and solo. This album is an absolute delight for fans like me and one which will regularly return to the player.

 Jesus Christ The Exorcist - Live at Morsefest 2018 by MORSE, NEAL album cover DVD/Video, 2020
3.27 | 7 ratings

BUY
Jesus Christ The Exorcist - Live at Morsefest 2018
Neal Morse Symphonic Prog

Review by kev rowland
Special Collaborator Honorary Reviewer

3 stars Normally the more I play an album the more I enjoy it, but now I look back at my review of the studio version, I cannot believe I gave it 4*'s. That feeling has definitely come through onto the live version as well, as while the performance from all those involved is wonderful, the complete set is just way too clunky, with the story being shoehorned into the music, none of which have stand out tunes. This was an experiment for Neal, in that he plays the part of composer and musical director and only gives himself a few small roles to play. The lead role of Jesus was taken by Ted Leonard (Enchant, Spock's Beard) and he was joined by Nick D'Virgilio (Spock's Beard, Big Big Train), Jake Livgren (Protokaw), Matt Smith (Theocracy), John Schlitt (Petra), Rick Florian (White Heart), Mark Pogue, Wil Morse and Talon David. I remember when my sister started getting heavily into Christian music some 30 years ago, she used to play Petra all the time, one of the greatest proponents of that style of music.

I am not sure if it is my own personal religious beliefs have changed dramatically over the years, or whether it is down to Morse providing music which is far more theatrical and less of the style I associate with him, but very little on this album works for me. When I hear a Neal Morse album I really do want to hear the complexity and style I expect which he first cemented in Spock's Beard and then took into much of his solo work. Unlike 'Jesus Christ Superstar', this really does have an air of being preached at, in a very American style. Everyone provides a great performance, with his normal guitarist Eric Gillette showing he is one of those guys who can seemingly do anything as he is the drummer on this performance, while bassist Randy George has been at the top of the game forever.

This is an album which will be appreciated far more by Christians than progheads, while the subset of that venn diagram will have a blast. I can appreciate it, but that is way different from actually enjoying it.

 The Neal Morse Band: The Great Adventure by MORSE, NEAL album cover Studio Album, 2019
3.91 | 304 ratings

BUY
The Neal Morse Band: The Great Adventure
Neal Morse Symphonic Prog

Review by bartymj

3 stars Like many people I probably need to review Neal Morse's melody-constructing separately to his lyric-writing, given my love of good prog tunes but aversion to anything particularly overly "preachy". If you're offended by someone singing about how much they love God, don't listen. If that's not an issue, or if like me you can stomach it as long as the music is good, carry on.

So, my rating for this album is based on three things: 1. Is it a solid and enjoyable melody without the lyrics? 2. Does the Christianity theme get too much for personal taste? 3. How does it compare to the rest of Neal Morse's output?

And the answers, for me: 1. If I was rating purely the first 20 minutes or so, I'd give it five stars. Unfortunately the album is over 100 minutes long, and gets too samey too quickly 2. Mostly no problem with it at all. But as you'd expect, the longer it goes on and builds up to the big epiphany at the end, the more overtly God-worshipping it becomes, and yes for someone who isn't a religious man this is hard to ignore. Particularly the final track, which to be honest is one of the more cringeworthy tracks Morse has created. 3. I do firmly believe Morse is a 5-star musician, capable of creating some incredible themes, and generating some serious emotion with his albums whether you're religious or not. However there's nothing new here for me to suggest anyone listen to this album above any of his others, and its really just a bit of a rinse and repeat of his other work.

So, for someone that doesn't get moved by praise of the Almighty, this is a good enough album to listen to as background noise all the way through, the opening tracks are excellent, it tails off as it goes on and by the end is too cheesy for my liking. Where I would say Morse's earlier "Question Mark" album is excellent and a must listen, this is middle-of the road, but you don't necessarily need to be a fan or a devout Christian to enjoy some of it. Three stars.

 Momentum by MORSE, NEAL album cover Studio Album, 2012
3.97 | 459 ratings

BUY
Momentum
Neal Morse Symphonic Prog

Review by A Crimson Mellotron

4 stars 'Momentum', or one of Neal Morse's most finely crafted prog albums. This one was released in 2012, in a particularly strong period for this kind of music. Of course, this record does not go too far away from what the listener would expect from this creative supernova. The typical symphonic prog with catchy hooks, memorable choruses, and quirky (and sometimes corky) riffs is displayed with fabulous musicianship and graceful exploration of what Neal Morse is best at. Joined by Mike Portnoy on drums, Randy George on bass, and the young Eric Gillette providing backing vocals on one of the tracks, we could say this is proto-Neal Morse band. However, this album is much more reminiscent of the light-hearted but musically astonishing early years of Spock's Beard, when Neal was the frontman.

The title track sets an uplifting mood to the record, that Neal & Co. manage to maintain throughout the whole 61-minute album, with the great guitar work and memorable chorus. Following this up is the very interesting 'Thoughts Part 5' from the Thoughts Cycle that began with Spock's Beard's fan-favorite tracks from the mid-90s. Here the vocal harmonies of Morse and Gillette come forth to establish one of the most enjoyable songs from Neal's catalogue. 'Smoke and Mirrors' is another great song, 'Weathering Sky' has a jolly Beatles taste, and 'Freak' is a softer, slower composition. Finally, the grand 34-minute 'World Without End' closes off this excellently made album, a true contender for the 'Best Neal Morse epic' title (and we all know what the competition would be for such a prize). I truly recommend this magnificent track to any Symphonic Prog fan, along with this excellent album.

Great melodies, memorable songs, graceful playing, fun lyrics, yet nothing very unpredictable or innovative for the Progressive genre, but a successful execution of many interesting ideas, a real achievement for Neal Morse!

 Merry Christmas From The Morse Family by MORSE, NEAL album cover Singles/EPs/Fan Club/Promo, 2000
2.10 | 24 ratings

BUY
Merry Christmas From The Morse Family
Neal Morse Symphonic Prog

Review by siLLy puPPy
Collaborator PSIKE, JR/F/Canterbury & Eclectic Teams

2 stars Christmas is a holiday that many love even if they have no religious affiliations. It's simply a time to kick back with friends and family and reflect on the year that has just about passed and possibly even exchange gifts. Christmas music is as old as the holiday itself but progressive rock hasn't exactly been a genre that has attracted the lion's share of artists flocking to make holiday music. Instead the stores and public establishments are flooded with not only the classics of yesteryear but a legion of truly awful modern acts trying to cash in on the Christmas music trend.

Known for his outspoken Christian beliefs, prolific progger NEAL MORSE seems like a songwriting machine not just as a solo artist with over 50 albums to his name but with the various projects ranging from Spock's Beard and Flying Colors to Transatlantic. MERRY CHRISTMAS FROM THE MORSE FAMILY shows a completely different side of MORSE who wrote a bunch of Christmas tunes to send to friends and family without the intent to ever release them but in the year 2000 just as MORSE was getting his solo career on track, he released this collection of all original material with his family helping out on vocals and MORSE handling most lead vocals and all the instruments.

This one shouldn't be considered a proper MORSE release and although he is known as a prog musician these are more simple traditional pop songs with the theme of Christmas. While i'm not a huge Christmas music fan there are some classics out there that will melt anybody's heart including Vince Guaraldi's "A Charlie Brown Christmas," Nat King Cole's "The Christmas Song" and closer to the prog world several releases from the Trans-Siberian Orchestra and "The Jethro Tull Christmas Album." Unfortunately MORSE doesn't craft an interesting mix of art rock inspired Christmas tunes and rather sticks to the traditional styles that have been the staple of department store playlists since the beginning of time.

While i do love some MORSE releases for their proggy bravado that keeps pushing the symphonic prog envelop, his vocals are one aspect of his music i really do not like but can tolerate if the music is excellent. That is not the case here as these Christmas tunes seem to be inspired by the classics but fail to capture the spirit with those instantly infectious jingles. Add to that MORSE's vocal style is more irritating than ever. I can't judge this too harshly. This wasn't designed for public consumption and merely released to give his fans some other options in the vast world of Christmas music. Personally i'm not really liking this but it's not as bad as some other misconceived Christmas releases from bands like Twisted Sister for example.

The best tracks on here don't feature MORSE as the main focus. "The Laughing Christmas Song" is a children's song with his kids adding vocals and it provides refreshing comedy relief to an otherwise earnest and saccharin batch of tunes. While this one may be fun for hardcore fans who have to own everything MORSE has released, i'm not sure even those followers would feel this one is a mandatory purchase. All in all, it's a cute little album allowing the world to see MORSE's private world with family photos decorating the cover art but as an interesting Christmas album i think that listening to this one time is more than enough and will certainly never be revisiting it. But the main point of writing this is simply to wish everyone out there a very MERRY CHRISTMAS!

 Sola Gratia by MORSE, NEAL album cover Studio Album, 2020
3.80 | 107 ratings

BUY
Sola Gratia
Neal Morse Symphonic Prog

Review by prog_traveller!!

2 stars Neal Morse is a prog legend and one of those guys that led a new wave of symphonic prog with Spock's Beard, later on with Transatlantic and his own band. Through the years he worked on many brilliant prog releases. From 2019 to this day he released four studio albums starting with The Great Adventure which is the only of the four albums worth mentioning. All I can say about Sola Gratia is that it's another Neal Morse album, it brings nothing new to the table. To be honest, there is some good music on the record, but it sounds repetitive and almost the same as his previous work.
 Sola Gratia by MORSE, NEAL album cover Studio Album, 2020
3.80 | 107 ratings

BUY
Sola Gratia
Neal Morse Symphonic Prog

Review by Aussie-Byrd-Brother
Special Collaborator Rock Progressivo Italiano Team

4 stars Former Spock's Beard frontman Neal Morse is hardly a slacker! A constant stream of studio works and live recordings pop up every year from the talented multi-instrumentalist, and 2020's `Sola Gratia' keeps up that momentum, recorded remotely away from his regular musical collaborators and in isolation during this oh so blessed of years! Sarcasm aside, it's another superb set from the composer, especially if you're a fan, and all the punchy symphonic prog arrangements, catchy tunes, elegant orchestration, rich harmonies, dynamic instrumental passages and faith-based lyrics the artist is known for are all accounted for here.

`Sola Gratia' compliments Morse's 2007 release `Sola Scriptura', which focused on an important figure in Christian faith history, sixteenth century German theologian Martin Luther. This time, Morse goes back even further and conveys the story of the apostle Paul (Saul), who initially participated in the persecution of early followers of the Christian movement in Jerusalem, before his later spiritual awakening and conversion.

While the basic instrumental structure of the disc is comparable to his other solo works, `...Gratia', like its 2007 predecessor, frequently has heavier and more bombastic touches worked in, with several passages of tougher guitars and constantly wilder vocals from the artist. But having said that, it might also have the greatest amount of tender and gentle moments as well. Morse is in impeccable form as ever (he really is one of the finest and most versatile modern keyboardists), but the return of his frequent collaborators, particularly ex-Dream Theater drummer Mike Portnoy and bassist Randy George, all give the album the instrumental power and technical finesse that prog fans crave.

Between grand symphonic themes, recurring instrumental motifs and winning reprises that pop up throughout, there's crunchy rockers like `In the Name of the Lord', and `Seemingly Sincere' (dig the muscular instrumental middle section in this one!), and tenderly soulful ballads in the dreamy `Overflow' (could almost be a Transatlantic - a Morse side-project - outtake), `The Glory of the Lord' and the Pink Floyd flavoured album highlight `Never Change' that are a Morse mainstay. Morse's Beatles influences sneak into `Ballyhoo (The Chosen Ones)', spirited backing vocalists are put to good use around the raucous grooves of `Building a Wall' by bringing a chanted choir response, and Gentle Giant fans will love the frantic run-around of `Warmer Than the Sunshine'.

Throughout, there are fleeting touches of call-backs to themes, lyrics and arrangements from `Sola Scriptura' to bring a sense of cohesion and continuity here, and fans will have a great time scratching their heads trying to recall what originally popped up and where on that one! Another highlight is that any prog album that prompts further research into its subject matter only enriches the work and helps the listener appreciate it on a deeper level, and `...Gratia', like its predecessor, is ripe for study and research. Believer or atheist, it's still interesting to delve into a fascinating part of history.

There is, however, a case to be made for the argument question of `How long can Neal Morse keep remaking the same album over and over?'. He has mostly followed the same blueprint described above ever since departing his former band and commencing solo duty with 2003's `Testimony', even if it is absolutely a formula that he completely excels at. If a newcomer curious about his music were to ask for a particular album recommendation, you could easily pick any one of his prog-styled solo albums from `Testimony' through to this one and they'd be rewarded with a winner, because they all sound very similar, and they are more-or-less all as superb as each-other.

So, can `Sola Gratia' be recommended? To make use of a Simpsons quote - "Yes' with an `if...', `no' with a `but..."! Yes, it's literally more of the same from the artist and won't offer any new surprises, but taken on its own merits, it's still a superb example of melodic prog-rock with a ton of the variety that Morse does so well, and despite the sixty-five minute running time, constant re-spins reveal a fairly compact set that flows together effortlessly. If you're a fan and are happy with the artist simply playing to his strengths and delivering exactly what is expected of him, or if you're a curious new listener wanting a good introduction to his approach, `Sola Gratia' proves to be just another winning example of melodic modern prog from a skilled and intelligent artist.

Four stars.

 The Neal Morse Band: The Great Adventour Live in Brno - 2019 by MORSE, NEAL album cover Live, 2020
4.74 | 14 ratings

BUY
The Neal Morse Band: The Great Adventour Live in Brno - 2019
Neal Morse Symphonic Prog

Review by Razumikhin

5 stars First of all, I am a huge fan of classic prog rock, I spent most of my time listening to the greatest albums of the 70s (Genesis, Yes, King Crimson ') but I don't look for new prog rock as I should. Last time I was involved with new prog releases was 2015, albums such as Hand.Cannot.Erase (Steven Wilson), Love, Fear And The Time Machine (Riverside), +4626 Comfort zone (Beardfish) were highlights of that great year. After that year, my enthusiasm in new releases went low.

But everything changes this year when I discovered Neal Morse music. I was blow away with his composition skills, and his live performance as singer and multi-instrumentalist. The energy and passion of this guy was beyond anything my eyes and ears had witness before. Now, in 2020 I'm ready to get back again in the modern prog rock scene, and must admit, there is an amazing catalog of artist out there to explore, including of course the Neal Morse band latest release, the Great Adventure live in BRNO.

I like the idea of reviewing this album, mostly cause it was released on march 6 of 2020, meaning the beginning of the Covid-19 crisis, and maybe that works against the acknowledgment of this record, just a few ranks and no reviews so far, and that's a pity cause is a damn good live album!!!. Here is the Neal Morse band first-time touring in Czech Republic, with the amazing line up of Neal Morse (Vocals, Keyboards, Acoustic and electric guitar, and whistle???), Mike Portnoy (Drums and vocals), Randy George (Bass and Bass Pedals and vocals), Bill Hubauer (Keybords and Vocals) and Eric Gillete (Guitar and vocals).

The set list for this show is the full album of the great adventure, sequel of their latest masterpiece The Similitude of a Dream. One of the greatest things in Neal discography is the enormous legacy of live albums, starting in 2003 with Testimony and continuing with a live album of each of his tours. And let me tell you, I really like it, and the live recreation of The Great Adventure is top to bottom an amazing show of non-stopping action, with all his complex passages, heavy sections and melodic trademark. All this performed with a jaw dropping precision and an infectious energy.

The encore of the show is an amazing Great Medley, a well-crafted medley of Neal Morse's and band records, containing one song of each album, starting with In The land of the beginning again of Testimony (2003) to Broken Sky/Long Day Reprise of Similitude of a Dream (2016). I have to get credit to the band for this effort, is not an easy task to craft this 25 minutes of music, especially when you take into consideration the discography of a composer where his average song last 10-15 minutes.

This is a 5-star Masterpiece, one of the greatest of 2020 and if you are a fan of progressive rock, or in music in general you better not miss this great adventure of more than two hours of music.

Thanks to ProgLucky for the artist addition. and to Quinino for the last updates

Copyright Prog Archives, All rights reserved. | Legal Notice | Privacy Policy | Advertise | RSS + syndications

Other sites in the MAC network: JazzMusicArchives.com — jazz music reviews and archives | MetalMusicArchives.com — metal music reviews and archives

Donate monthly and keep PA fast-loading and ad-free forever.