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Neal Morse - Testimony 2 CD (album) cover


Neal Morse


Symphonic Prog

4.00 | 596 ratings

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Biff Tannen
5 stars Well, it took him eight tries (six since he left Spock's Beard), but Neal Morse has finally written and recorded his perfect solo album. And what a terrific album it is.

Once you hear the opening piano notes, which reprises one of the main themes from the original Testimony album, you know you are in a for a helluva ride, especially when it immediately segues into the very catchy Mercy Street, which has a chorus that will get stuck in your head for days.

The main disc is an astonishing journey of Morse's catchy, and yet very complex, prog rock. Plus, this disc brings back what has been missing from a lot of Morse's solo work: fun! Songs like Time Changer (which recalls his days with SB, had a very SBish bass line, and features a vocal section where most of his former bandmates all contribute), Nighttime Collectors, Time Has Come Today and Road Dog Blues have that kind of fun as hell, rocking vibe that Morse was so good at writing when he was driving the Spock's bus.

If nothing else, the main disc is worth having just for the last two tracks. It's for You is a typical Morse composition that combines stunning melodies with progressive theatrics; it is a track that many rock stars would love to say they had written.

Which brings us to Crossing Over/Mercy Street Reprise, which is hands down the best 11 minutes and 46 seconds Neal Morse has written in the last decade. Words cannot do this song justice. You have to hear it to grasp its full greatness and majestic power. I love how, instead of doing the usual Morse-style ending where it builds to a crushing crescendo, it just goes on and on and eventually fades out, leaving the listener believing that that gorgeous melody will go on forever, even while our time listening to is over.

And if the main disc isn't enough, we get three more songs on the second disc. The first song, Absolute Beginner, is a good tune; nothing spectacular, but just a solid song. Supernatural, track two, is a killer tune with harmonies in the middle that are very reminiscent of Spock's June. Plus, I like how the lyrics can be interpreted in several ways. While it is easy to think that Neal could be talking about the relationship between God and man, they are ambiguously worded to where it could be about a relationship between a man and a woman. That kind of spirituality, but without being over the top about it, carries over into Seeds of Gold, a 26-minute epic that would be the best thing Neal had written in years (if Crossing Over... didn't exist).

Ultimately, yes, I think this is a progressive rock masterpiece. I would probably give it 4 1/2 stars, but with the 1/2 stars not available here, I'll bump it up to 5 here. If you were a big fan of Neal's back in the day, but have a tough time sticking with him because of his lyrical content, this is the Neal Morse solo album to have.

Biff Tannen | 5/5 |


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