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Neal Morse - Sola Scriptura CD (album) cover


Neal Morse


Symphonic Prog

4.19 | 650 ratings

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4 stars More about religion than in religion this time, thank God!

Neal Morse is a quite recent encounter for me and I do not know any of his work with Spock's Beard or Transatlantic (yet?), but I have heard his three most popular solo works: this one, ? and Testimony. Of these three albums I like this one the most, and compared to the other two, Sola Scriptura is darker, more aggressive and intense, it rocks harder - at times flirting with Prog Metal sounds and there are far more instrumental workouts. In that sense at least, I find this more 'progressive'. There are still the sweet Beatles-esque melodies, but they are more finely woven into a much bigger tapestry and the long compositions are more complex in structure.

What's perhaps best of all is the fact that this album comes across as much less 'preachy'. Like on Testimony and ?, the subject matter is still religion, but Sola Scriptura is more about religion than in religion (a useful distinction I learned while studying religion at the university for two and a half years); it is more of a historical portrait than a personal 'testimony'. This time the religious praising (and cursing!) comes out of the mouths of Martin Luther and the Catholic Church respectively and not, like on Testimony, from Morse's own. This helps a lot to make the album's message more acceptable for me as a confirmed atheist and secular humanist. I feel much more sympathy for Martin Luther's very real struggles against the authoritarian Catholic Church in the 1500's than for the 'spiritual struggle' a Rock musician in LA in the new millennium.

With the presence of piano, synthesisers, electric and acoustic guitars and violin, the sound here often evokes Kansas and Morse seems to have picked up more than a few tricks from Kansas' main songwriter Kerry Livgren who also happens to be one of my own all time favourite songwriters. Morse is walking in the foot steppes of Livgren in more than one way as Livgren is also a born again Christian. They know each other too we may assume as Livgren played guitar on Morse' Testimony album. However, this is no Kansas clone or any clone at all for that matter, Morse has found his own style here within the framework of Symphonic Prog. This may not be groundbreaking music, but it is also not derivative in any objectionable way in my opinion.

Overall, I find this album highly enjoyable with strong compositions, great instrumentation and interesting tempo and mood changes. Highly recommended!

SouthSideoftheSky | 4/5 |


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