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Neal Morse

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Neal Morse One album cover
4.12 | 542 ratings | 61 reviews | 43% 5 stars

Excellent addition to any
prog rock music collection

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Studio Album, released in 2004

Songs / Tracks Listing

1. The Creation (18:22) :
- i) One Mind
- ii) In a Perfect Light
- iii) Where Are You?
- iv) Reaching from the Heart
2. The Man's Gone (2:50)
3. Author of Confusion (9:30)
4. The Separated Man (17:58) :
- i) I'm in a Cage
- ii) I Am the Man
- iii) The Man's Gone (reprise)
- iv) Something Within Me Remembers
5. Cradle to the Grave (4:55)
6. Help Me / The Spirit and the Flesh (11:13)
7. Father of Forgiveness (5:46)
8. Reunion (9:11) :
- i) No Separation
- ii) Grand Finale
- iii) Make Us One

Total Time 79:45

Bonus CD from 2004 SE:
1. Back to the Garden (4:26)
2. Nothing to Believe (3:29)
3. Cradle to the Grave (Neal's vocal) (4:55)
4. King Jesus (4:48)
5. What Is Life? (4:28)
6. Where the Streets Have No Name (5:48)
7. Day After Day (3:25)
8. Chris Carmichael's Aria (1:07)
9. I'm Free | Sparks (6:36)

Total Time 39:02

Line-up / Musicians

- Neal Morse / vocals, guitar, keyboards, arranger & producer

- Phil Keaggy / electric guitar solo (1), acoustic guitar solo (4-iii), 2nd lead vocals (5)
- Chris Carmichael / violin, viola, backing vocals
- Rachel Rigdon / violin
- Hannah Vanderpool / cello
- Dave Jacques / string bass
- Jim Hoke / saxophone
- Neil Rosengarden / trumpet
- Bill Huber / trombone
- Michael Thurman / French horn
- Randy George / bass, arrangements
- Mike Portnoy / drums, arrangements
- Glenn Caruba / percussion
- Gene Miller / additional vocals
- Rick Altizer / additional vocals
- Aaron Marshall / backing vocals
- Missy Hale / backing vocals

Releases information

Artwork: Thomas Ewerhard

CD Metal Blade Records ‎- 3984-14519-2 (2004, US)
2CD Radiant Records ‎- RA021 (2004, US) Bonus CD w/ 9 tracks including 4 cover songs (U2, George Harrison, Badfinger & The Who)

Thanks to ProgLucky for the addition
and to Quinino for the last updates
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NEAL MORSE One ratings distribution

(542 ratings)
Essential: a masterpiece of progressive rock music(43%)
Excellent addition to any prog rock music collection(39%)
Good, but non-essential (11%)
Collectors/fans only (4%)
Poor. Only for completionists (4%)

NEAL MORSE One reviews

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Collaborators/Experts Reviews

Review by richardh
5 stars Praise the Lord , twenty minute tracks,hammond solos,dynamic drumming.Speak his name with reverence... Neal Morse.Oh hail the great one and play this thing loud because it doth conquer all evil and lead us into the promise land of prog rock that kicketh the arseth out of most modern prog.Oh hail the one ....Neal Morse.Lets hear it one more time...
Review by penguindf12
4 stars I didn't think it was possible: a Christian/Prog album and artist. But it is. Most others have said in some way that this is a bad thing (the Christian element), but I don't think so. Neal has found an inspiration, a reason to make music.

I expected this to be preachy, corny, pointless, and cliched. But it isn't. Some may dislike the story and base of the story, but coming from a left-wing Christian background, I don't mind. In fact, this album reached out to me in a way few others have. It tells a legitimate story, and the music is wonderful. Now, the "oneness" and possible creationism is questionable, but the idea and purpose of the album makes up for it.

It begins with the epic "Creation," which opens with an extravagant orchestral followed by a guitar solo and great drumming by DREAM THEATER's Mike PORTNEY. It flows throughout, with some hints at creationism and Christian rock tendencies (mainly in the lyrics, subtely in the music at times). It does not become preachy very much, but I'd say this track is the most preachy of the bunch (with the exception of "Reunion"). Anyway, as the old Genesis (not the band -- duh) story goes, Man is created and betrays God. God kicks Man out of Eden (but Man really rebels on his own -- MORSE portrays God as a Loving God, the type I really believe in -- none of that conservative "war God" bull). It's a sad story, touching even, the way MORSE does it.

Track two is the short "The Man's Gone," which features some excellent acoustic guitar and a rainy, stormy, wandering-on-the-road-in-the-countryside-in-the-rain-at-night feeling to it. Very nice. The lyrics are about the "favorite son" and his lone venture from home to make his way alone.

Now we come to the DREAM THEATER-esque "Author of Confusion," which begins with a heavy metal instrumental (not grungy or too high gain--the color "orange" for some reason comes to my mind--don't ask) followed by some GENTLE GIANT-esque voice dubs building up into a swaying tower of Neals singing in harmony. This dips into some varied metal/ballad sections, all of it good. Finally, the music begins to repeat rapidly, spinning out and literally exploding. The lyrics have to do with, I suppose, Satan or "the power which drove Man from God." It really seems to be about the confusion of belief, whether to be Christian, Muslim, Hindu, Jew, Buddhist, nothing, everthing, or just scream "I DON"T KNOW!!!" (which I have often done). It's actually the only allusion to Satan in the whole album...which could be good or bad, depending on who you are (I personally don't believe in a Hell where people would be damned forever -- if you are truly repentant, shouldn't you be able to be saved? Really. --but you don't want to hear my theology. Back to the album).

Next up is the even second epic, "The Separated Man." It begins with the very good and fairly catchy "I'm in a Cage," describing Man's position he has put himself in. Locked in reality, no way out...only pain. It also recalls GENESIS' "In the Cage," and they both have the same purpose. GENESIS has always been a quasi-religious band with Christian tendencies -- admit it! I mean, look at their name. But anyway, after this is the moody, pondering, and somewhat dark "I'm the Man." It shows Man's attempts to create his own heaven, a bit like putting up with much effort a tent in the woods and rebel when a big house is just around the corner but you refuse to go back. Following is the reprise of "The Man's Gone," this time in a much more prog rock fashion which is mostly a heavenly instrumental bookended by lyrical sections. Following is the short "Something within Me Remembers" in which Man realizes he may in fact need God.

"Cradle to the Grave" is a ballad sung between God and Man (something only a prog artist could do -- contemporary conservative Christian artists don't have the guts to do something so pretentious...but cool). Man seems resigned to his fate, having mainly forgotten God.

"Help Me / The Spirit and the Flesh" is another epic in two parts. The first half is extremely well-done, as the rest of the album is, and catchy to boot. Man has fallen to the lowest lows, living as the forgotten son with no purpose. He cries out to God, wanting to "come back home." God responds in the second section with the only reference to Jesus, who returns in the second coming to save man. The music is a reprise of "Creation" here, with a different spin on it this time.

Next is the counterpoint to "Author of Confusion," "Father of Forgiveness." Essentally a soft ballad with Christian lyrics. Non-Christians wouldn't like this one, but I don't mind.

Finally we have "The Reunion," which is obviously about Man's return to God and heaven. Excited music, but preachy at times. A fairly good ending, with a reprise of "One Mind" from "The Creation" closing. And it fades out much the same way it faded in. Predictable, but cool.

And that's what I think about this album. Christian proggers should definitely grab this one, and non-Christians could also love this album if they ignore the lyrics. Who knows, it may change your mind about Christianity -- but then again, probably not. But buy it anyway just for the music, okay?

Review by Gatot
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
5 stars Oh man . what a wonderful album this one is! Morse has proven himself to prog lovers that he can succeed by standing on his own creation. No question about his brilliant contribution to Spock's Beard; and this gentleman is definitely a prog genius! I'm truly honest on this even though I did not favor Spock's Beard early albums where I found too many mixture of styles between Gentle Giant, Yes, and . Gypsy King! (this one had made me reluctant with SB first album despite I admired the musicianship of the band). Even, I had Morse first solo album but it did not attract me to the bone at all. But .. his solo work after he left the band with "Testimony" and "One" are marvelous! Don't waste your time reading the following boring review (too long probably) as it is not intended to stimulate your mind to action on something (to buy this CD). Rather, it is intended to give my deepest and personal appreciation to the gentleman named NEAL MORSE especially in this album. So, don't read it, just buy this CD now!

The Creation (18:22) This epic track is sectioned into four: I) One Mind, II) In a Perfect Light, III) Where Are You? IV) Reaching from the Heart. It starts off with an atmospheric keyboard and orchestra arrangement that reminds me to watching a "Holywood" movie or "Lord of The Rings". It has a powerful nuance of great music. The music blasts off with Portnoy's work with his drum stools, keyboard, guitar sounds backed with symphonic music. The intertwining guitar, drum and keyboard in relatively fast tempo at the opening is really superb! The voice line then enters the music in relatively continuous stream of music accentuated with dynamic drumming and keyboard. Morse vocal and its harmony with backing vox are stunning. In some transitions and some passages, mellotron is used nicely. This track has a very tight structure that ties each musical passage beautifully in one cohesive way. I fail to identify any loose tie in any passage of its composition, all parts hold together tightly like a concrete structure but it gives you a total musical enjoyment and orgasm. I don't mean to be vulgar about this; I just want to make my point clear: it's a superb composition by any standard you look at it. All guitar and keyboard solos are packaged nicely. You will definitely agree with me if you listen to it by yourself. Believe me .. My personal experience: I don't realize that I'm approaching minute 18 of the song where I never get bored during my journey with this song since beginning. This track is an enhanced "Supper's Ready" of this millennium!

The Man's Gone (2:50) This short track features acoustic guitar and percussive in moderate tempo; performed with a theatrical vocal. If I enjoy this track as one song it does not attract me much, it's just a good track. But when I listen to it as a transition between "The Creation" and third track "Author of Confusion" . oh man . what a nice transition! Let's look at the third track.

Author of Confusion (9:30) It blasts off, really a blast!, with a fast tempo and complex music combining guitar, keyboard, drum and bass in a rocking mood. The music itself produces a sort of riffs but it's unlike prog met riffs. There are nice transitions featuring mellotron and dazzling drum work followed by lead guitar. They keyboard solo sometimes reminds me to Rick Wakeman's. Having run thru approx 4 minutes the great vocal harmony ala Gentle Giant enters the music. Oh my God . this vocal harmony is completely superb! The music then turns in moderate tempo with continuous flow. Mellotron work plays beautifully at background. Electric guitar and keyboard works are stunning and .. it's rocking! This track is and will be my long time favorite. Wonderfully crafted!

The Separated Man (17:58) It's another epic with four sections. Composed in a moderate tempo, this track is less complex compared to the previous one especially under the first section "I'm in a Cage". The transition piece features middle east nuance with excellent vocal harmony that ends up with a "nice" scream followed by uplifting musical passage. The acoustic guitar work is excellent. The ending part of the track features nice orchestra and vocal that concludes the song.

Cradle to the Grave (4:55) It's a ballad track that reminds me to Spock's Beard "The Distance to The Sun" of "Day for Night" album. The opening acoustic guitar work reminds me to Pink Floyd's "Animals" album. But when the voice line enters it's entirely different thing "Sometimes I don't understand why I was born at all .". It's a mellow and melodic song.

Help Me/The Spirit and the Flesh (11:13) It starts off with a great piano touch and flows naturally in moderate tempo with Morse vocal followed by short lead guitar fills. There are jazz influence appear in this track. This song is straight forward and there is stunning acoustic guitar fills. The music turns to another melody in the middle of the track with quieter passage and it turns high in happier mood. It ends up with symphonic music with excellent orchestration.

Father of Forgiveness (5:46) is a nice mellow track featuring piano and vocal at the opening followed by orchestra and soft drumming. Reunion (9:11) - the opening is composed in straight forward rock with orchestra. The tempo turns faster with dynamic drumming and violin and cello orchestration augmented with lead guitar work. The music sometimes turns quieter with piano as rhythm. The inclusion of female choirs is really good to conclude the album with "Make us One" in symphonic style.

Overall, it's a masterpiece and highly recommended album. Rating 4.75 / 5. GW, Indonesia.

Review by Menswear
3 stars I won't say much about this record because there is many great (and long) reviews for this baby. I'll just say that this is my first sip of Morse's work since his conversion in a branch of christianity. I don't know which one, there's so much clans and subdivisions in the Church.

Anyway, I'm (honestly!) surprised on how this rocks hard and well. Such faith in the Son of Jehovah is certainly giving M. Morse some powerful musical inspirations. Because for christian- rock, this is a job done extremely well. The days of Jars of Clay and so-called christian bands are so far behind with this. This is not corny, nor sappy, nor gospel. This is just a great progressive rock record. Amazing in many aspects. We could'nt even tell it talks about Jesus Christ. I don't know if he could take this work as a praise but, I'll ask him one day.

What strikes me is that it really blows what Spock's Beard did. I have the first 3 albums, considered the best, an nothing tops this beauty.

How can this guy could pull such great material after the musical storms that was Spock's Beard and Transatlantic? A normal guy would totally repeat himself or give many times the same songs. But this guy is FRESH EVERY LISTEN and STILL founds a LOT of stuff to say. And GOOD stuff by the way. Just listen, it defies everything I thought I knew about him. I can officialy put him in my rockollogic brain right behind prolifics masterminds like David Bowie, Paul McCarthney, The Edge, Arjen Luccassen or Tori Amos. Honestly, this guy's a machine. Unlike Ayreon, he diversified a bit more his work, giving a sonic signature but still providing a satisfying fresh approach.

Pepole say that faith in God is a crutch for humanity and presents you has a feeble minded puppet. Faith is good to your health and mind, look how great this stuff is! Believers are more to cope with depression or mortality than non-believers. It's not rocket science.

And this record is an absolute soul fortification.

Review by Fishy
4 stars A lot of fans of progressive rock seem to avoid Neil Morse since he uses his lyrics for preaching his Christian views. To me, it isn't all that important where he gets his inspiration from. Knowing his messages aren't my cup of tea, I pay attention to the melodies instead of the words. From the first notes of the album you know that Morse delivered once again a very decent album. Back in 2001 Testimony surprised me a lot as the quality was superior to the material his former band released without him. To put some variation to the music Neil used mellotrons, orchestra, influences from folk music, the Beatles and Yes. Just like Testimony, this sounds like a band effort. I keep wondering how on earth it's possible for only one man to achieve all of this, even with the help of Mike Portnoy on the drums and Randy George on the bass.

What can I say about this album ? This is some of the best progressive music around at the time. If you should strip down the songs from their progressive arrangements you 'd still have a great rock album full of timeless melodies. This guy is an extremely good songwriter. His songwriting abilities are coming through on "The man's gone", a track which could be included on a plain rock album but Morse adds some mystery to it. For me "The separated man" is the best of the bunch. Listen to those symphonic melodies returning every now and then in different arrangements : orchestral, by violin, acoustic or electric guitar. This is prog how it should be. Bombastic moments and more intimate atmospheres succeed each other rapid, this makes it an exciting listening experience ! I'd swear I hear the great Steve Howe on the guitar but also the drums are awesome. You can notice Portnoy's influence on the splendid intro section of "Author of confusing", one of the highlights of this album, this reminds me of Dream Theater and Kansas but the vocal harmonies sound even better. Unfortunately not everything on this album is that good. "Cradle to the grave" and "Father of forgiveness" are too cheesy for my ears. The special edition includes other tracks as such. To issue bonus cd's is a bad idea, they bring the level of the main albums down. Maybe sometimes less is more. But now I'm exaggerating. Some of the bonus tracks are fine like "The streets have no name" or "Back to the garden. Its just that it ain't really stuff for progfans. Influences from jazz give the album another direction in "Help me", too bad the religious message seems to dominate this splendid track and just about every song that follows from then on. It's getting hard to ignore the bible after hearing this. Give the atheists a brake Neil !!! Your lyrics seem to spoil the music for me, even if I respect your beliefs. It would be a pity when this music was intended to religious people only.

This is a good album but listening to a track like The Creation, I can't really see a big difference in musical style with the stuff he released with Spocks Beard or Transatlantic or maybe it's just me ?

Review by Tristan Mulders
4 stars Neal Morse - One

This is the first release I've heard by Neal Morse. I knew him of is work at Spock's Beard but never really loved their music, until about 2 months ago, I just decided to give The Light and Day for Night another go and I actually like it.

So I decided to listen to Neal Morse at the local recordstore and the first thing I noticed was the heaviness of the songs.

The first track on the album, called The Creation, is a wonderful 18 min epic that has, of course, Christian lyrics. But also heavy guitars mixed with superb synthesizers. The song consists out of four parts. Neal's voice is really nice on this song. From his high- toned voice to this part in 'Part 3 - Where are you?' where he 'screams'. Overall this is one of the best songs on the album and it certainly doesn't suffer from a lack of guitar- and keyboardsolo's.

The Man's gone is also one of the best track's on the album. It's a brief (mostly acoustic) piece with maybe even the best vocals of Neal I've heard EVER.

Track 3 Author of Confusion is I think the most aggressive/heavy track you'll gonna find on this album. The vocal parts are sung by various 'voices'. All singing the lines in a different way. This is typical Neal Morse. I mean, there isn't a single album from him with Spock's Beard that hasn't got this 'thing'. Overal this is a very nice tune.

The second epic The separated Man. Another long suite, this time again consisting of 4 parts. One of them being a superb reprise of 'The Man's gone'. I like the melody of the vocals in Part 1 'I'm in a Cage'. It has this very relxt but dark tone over it (from my point of view of course). This part also contains a small part from 'The Man's gone'. Part 2 - 'I am the Man' sounds a lot like the old PINK FLOYD classic 'Set the Controls for the Heart of the Sun'. Considering the atmosphere of the song and the percussive elements look quite the same. The vocal sections in this part are being varied with heavy instrumental sections, even parts with cello's or violin's in it (don't know which one for sure). The reprise of 'The Man's gone' is an electric version and is heavier. This sections ends with a superb string arrangement assisted by DREAM THEATER kind of keyboards and heavy guitars.

Cradle to the Grave is the only track on the album that I really dislike. This is a duet with some bloke called PHIL KEAGGY and I really dislike his way of singing on the song. This song kept me from giving the album a 5 star review instead of 4 stars.

Help me/The Spirit and the Flesh starts with a nice piano chord that you'll remember for ever after once hearing it. The song features some really nice guitar work. Especially the Spanish guitar is played extremely well I think and it's very good move to put it in the mix! The second half of the track, 'The Spirit and the Flesh', is a bit too religious in the lyrics, but it doesn't do badly to the strength of the song. It's simply superb....!

Father of Forgiveness is another ballad but this time it works out right, not like 'Cradle to the Grave'.

Reunion is the closing track of the album. It starts quite happy and it has a really nice chorus in the first part. The 'Grand Finale' part is a very 'busy' and quick instrumental part. My personal opinion is that at the last note of 'Grand Finale' the album should be finished. The actual closing section doesn't sound as much as an end as that.

Overall a really brilliant album that has a couple of minor flaws.

Review by Muzikman
5 stars As Neal MORSE continues to grow personally, his musical direction determinedly follows. "Testimony" was his first solo outing since leaving SPOCK'S BEARD. It gave us a glimpse of a man eager to share his new life with everyone willing to listen. One is similar achievement with less stress on the religious points made so strongly on the previous release.

This CD is a prog-rock masterpiece and there is no question he has reached yet another level of attainment within the realm of Christian rock music. Ideally, the words are as strong as the music. Musically this is the strongest album he has done to date, and that comes as no surprise to me. MORSE is in a creative evolution that seems to have no barriers or timeline. He is very smart with whom he chooses to help him deliver his music and message. He employs one of the best drummers in world Mike Portnoy (DREAM THEATER) and a terrific bass player, Randy George. This album rocks hard, and what I find interesting is that the latest SPOCK'S BEARD effort "Octane" is one of their heaviest albums yet. So as MORSE continues to move forward so does his former group, which is a good thing for us all. However, this is not about the past, this is the here and now, and it could not be any brighter than for Neal MORSE.

With three songs that are in the magnum opus mold, this album fits a truly classic prog-rock effort. Nearly 80 minutes of music is very generous, it is equal to another two-album set. I enjoyed the delicate melodies engineered with the acoustic guitars and keyboards, and how it built to a zenith then would let loose and start to rock. This type of approach typifies great prog-rock music, and MORSE most certainly is one of the very best at his craft. What I find amazing is that he can use primarily the same formula, produce variety, and keep the listener interested from start to finish, for me that is a monumental task.

Another great album, another year, I can only wonder in amazement what this man will come out with next.

Review by loserboy
4 stars Wow is this guy inspired of what ? "One" is simply a killer album from ex- SPOCK"S BEARD leader and a noticeable improvement over "Testimony" which failed to work for me. MORSE drives home his inspired lyrics and messages over some powerful music with the help of pals Mike Portnoy (DREAM THEATER) and a terrific bass player named Randy George. "One" is jam packed and clocks in at almost 80 mins with 4 epic tracks, each given lots of room to explore and build up his musical concepts. I think this is the closest to SPOCK'S BEARD in texture and sonic explosions that he has come yet from all his solo albums. MORSE's vocals and harmonies are pure and heavily inspired and his lyrics reach heavenly heights for this music lover. MORSE covers the guitar and keyboards while Portnoy contributes his competent yet controlled drumming and Randy George's fine bass interplay. Overall a truly wonderful album with some great musical moments and an album I treasure in my collection. I guess he finally landed with a Christian-Prog album for me. Two Thumbs Up !
Review by MikeEnRegalia
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
5 stars This is the second album from Mr. Morse since he left Spock's Beard. In my opinion it is better than the first one (Testimony) in several ways. It's less emotional than Testimony, because it is not autobiographical.

One is a very tight album, and very cleverly constructed. Highlights are Author Of Confusion, which is a very complex track with lots of breaks, frenzy druming and guitar riffing and Gentle Giant like vocal fugues that have become a trademark of Neal's songs, and The Separated Man, which contains some amazing oriental sounding parts and - as a contrast - is based on acoustic guitars.

All the other songs are brilliant as well. Cradle to the Grave might seem a little cheesy to some (It's a duet sung by God and man), but it is so well done that one can hardly complain about that.

Musicianship is stellar on this album, as is the production. Neal's guitars sound very modern on this album, compared to the fuzzy sound on Testimony. Mike Portnoy does an even better job than on Testimony, giving the songs plenty of room to breathe. As a whole, the album also seems more compact than Testimony - clocking in at nearly 80 minutes, it fits on one CD.

Review by Zitro
4 stars Morse's last Album is a brilliant follow up of Testimony. I guess Morse wanted to play it safe and not experiment a lot, making this album sound like Transatlantic/Spock's Beard. The lyrics are somewhat preachy, since this is a concept album of Man's relationship to God.

The Creation is a Majestic overture that begins symphonic, and laters when the drums begin to pound, one theme of the album comes (a synth riff) and gets rocking ... the song goes through many phases and reminds of Spock's Beard's best songs. The vocals are decent (neal morse was never a great vocalist but he did well on the album) and the song is as good as it can get. The moment when Neal Morse screams 'Why, why are you hiding?!' is spectacular. 9/10

The Mans Gone follows with good melodic themes that will later be heard in the fourth song and the last song. The melodies are good so this is a good track. 7/10

Author of Confusion is my favourite track of the album. It clearly talks about the Devil, and I love the imagery of the confusion with the overdubbed vocal harmonies, althrough it can over overboard. The song also starts great in a metal kind of way, and has a majestic metallic riff which later will be heard at the end containing the best drumming I ever heard of Portnoy. 9.5/10

Separated Man is a more melancholic song and I feel the frustuation. While the 'in a cage' sounds simple and not great, the rest is progressive rock ecstacy, you have to hear it 7.5/10

Cradle to the Grave : This song is so uplifting and contains such vocal beauty that gives me goosebumps , even if I am atheist. 9/10

Help me/the spirit and flesh : this is an epic that starts with straightforward uptempo music with nice acoustic guitar fills. It then cries 'Help me !' and eventually finishes happier. A good Epic 7.5/10

Father of Forgiveness : a mellow ballad with christian vocals. It has a nice message and the melodies are very well done as well as its symphonic arrangements. 7.5/10

Reunion : a middle-length epic song that concludes the album on a happy note. It begins reprising the main theme of the album which AGAIN is played with horns and vocals. Fortunately it gets better when the synth riff from Creation is played and some impressive drumming follows. After that it ends with good melodies and very happily. 8/10

While not a masterpiece for me, christians could probably call it that and I highly recommend this album to any Christian proggers (nor even not proggers) .. but I heard that Testimony is much more touching than this one and overall better composed, so you might want to get that one first.

My Grade : B+

Review by maani
4 stars It is one thing to express one's own personal religious conversion as a musical concept, as Morse did brilliantly on "Testimony." However, it can be dangerous to take on the weighty and controversial concepts of creation, salvation and redemption in a more general way, as Morse does here. It would be easy to get bogged down in doctrine, or simply become either "preachy" or maudlin - or both. That Morse avoids this - and is able to convey the general idea in a broadly digestible way - shows that, contrary to what at least one PA member believes, people of faith do not have a "flawed brain." Indeed, Morse's genius has never been so clear and present as it is on "One," which I find both musically and otherwise more satisfying than "Testimony" (as excellent as that album is).

The album opens with "The Creation," a suite comprising four compositions. The intro to this suite is among the best, most exciting, even riveting progressive jams I have ever heard. Indeed, with Morse giving Petrucci a serious run for his money, and Portnoy playing as well as he has ever played, parts of the intro rival anything on Metropolis for sheer complex progressive excellence. And the suite as a whole is among the best extended progressive compositions in the entire genre.

"The Man's Gone" is a short, poignant ballad, well-suited as a "separator" between "The Creation" and "Author of Confusion," a stunning composition that is worth the entire price of admission. Opening with another radical, ultra-progressive jam, the composition moves into contrapuntal a cappella harmonies a la Gentle Giant. [N.B. The last time you hear these harmonies, accompanied by instruments, Morse uses a very Minnear-ish keyboard sound and a very Green-ish guitar sound to deliberately underscore the GG influence.] The rest of the composition is equally excellent, and ranks among the best prog compositions by any artist.

This is followed by another four-song suite, "The Separated Man." Not quite as cohesive as "The Creation," it is nevertheless excellent, and has a number of neat prog bits. The quasi-Middle Eastern guitar part and overall effect of "I am the Man" is wonderful, and the instrumental mid-section of "The Man's Gone" is yet another spectacular progressive jam.

"Cradle to the Grave" is a beautiful and unapologetically faith-based ballad, "Help Me - The Spirit and the Flesh" is a solid composition with yet more excellent prog jam bits, and "Father of Forgiveness" is another gorgeous faith-based ballad.

This brings us to the closing three-song suite, "Reunion," which is more straightforward, but serves to bring the total concept of the album to a satisfying, even perfect, conclusion. [Interestingly, unless my CD player is wacko, the album is created so that when the third song, "Make Us One," ends, the CD begins playing the beginning of the first track of this suite, "No Separation," again.]

As with "Testimony," the musicianship on this album is nothing short of impossible. As noted, Morse's guitar work rivals almost anyone in the genre - especially for diversity of styles - and his keyboard work runs the gamut from simple but effective piano to almost Wakeman-like organ and synth solos. Unless I am way out of the loop, bassist Randy George seems to have sprung full-grown from the head of Zeus: he is a monster bass player who, among other things, definitely does not look like how he plays, but rivals any of the best prog bassists out there. As for Portnoy, having listened to him on a number of DT albums, and now on "Testimony" and One," I get the sense that Morse's music gives him far more "freedom" than he feels with DT: his drumming sounds much "looser" and even "happier" here, while retaining a level of technique and complexity that is second to none.

Although I gave them equal ratings, I believe that "One" is, on the whole, a slightly better album than "Testimony." However, you won't go wrong with either of them. Because whatever your belief or non-belief, Neal Morse is simply among the greatest, most important - and even fun - progressive composers out there.

Review by Cygnus X-2
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
5 stars A very mixed concept album from Spock's Beard/TransAtlantic keyboardist/guitarist/vocalist Neal Morse. It has pieces that are simply stunning, and some that leave me wanting more. There are some sections that are closely leaning to a metal type atmosphere, and then there are moments that are very relaxed and have a very soothing atmosphere. The diversity of styles on this album are simply amazing. Mike Portnoy, who is often considered to be "all double-bass" takes a very relaxed approach to the drumming on this one, and Randy George is a terrific bassist that fits the mold well. Phil Keaggy, who is often considered to be one of the best living guitarists, has some very exciting and breathtaking moments on this album as well.

Morse's lyrics on this one are very spiritual and often make allusions to God and all things Christianity. Sometimes the message he conveys comes off as too preachy and can really upset the tempo of the song. However, there are a lot of moments where his lyrics are sensitive and thought-provoking. Musically, I find this album to be stunning, from breathtaking acoustic passages, to full throttle "muddy" sections. The tracks that come to mind are The Creation, Author of Confusion, and The Man is Gone. The Creation is the opener of the album, and begins with an epic orchestral feel, but quickly evolves into Symphonic prog nirvana. Throughout the 18 minutes, all kinds of emotions are conveyed through the music, ranging from majestic, to lonely, to persevering. Kudos to Mr. Morse for some excellent synth/organ parts. The Man is Gone has a bit of a single quality to it. Very emotional leads from Morse and some great guitar work are highlights, not to mention a catchy chorus. Author of Confusion is one of the heaviest songs on the album musically. One sections has some very dirty and distorted guitar followed by some anxious mellotron. The track also features some Gentle Giant-esque vocal fogues and is used very tastefully. Overall, a fantastic track.

Overall, this album is a fantastic effort from Neal Morse. The preachiness is the only thing I can really fault this album with, and it isn't even that much (and it doesn't detract from the overall quality of the album as well). Otherwise, this is a perfect album. 5/5

Review by E-Dub
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
5 stars I've got this on the player right now, and with all of Neal's stuff, the more I hear it, the more impressed I become. One is certainly no exception! He and Portnoy (along with Randy George) have created quite the team with which to be reckoned.

I can't think of a stinker on this disc. Every song is moving and from the soul of a genius. "The Separated Man" section is exceptional in lyrics and music. "I'm In A Cage" reaches out in desperation, but then explodes about 10 1/2 minutes in with Portnoy simply punishing the kit, backing what is arguably one of the more powerful instrumentals I've ever heard. As with Testimony, it showcases what an underrated guitarist Neal is. His acoustic work during this section is amazing!

The song that normally has me reaching for the 'repeat' button, however, is "Cradle To The Grave" with Phil Keaggy. How absolutely enchanting is this song? Extraordinary composition that just about brings me to tears. This song and Marillion's "The Great Escape" are two of the most emotional pieces of music I've ever heard. Simply brilliant!

"Help Me/The Spirit And The Flesh" starts off in a salsa like flavor with great piano by Neal, puncuated by some nice vocals towards the end of "The Spirtit And The Flesh". And "Father Of Forgiveness" is much in the same style as "Cradle To The Grave"-- a nice ballad that still embodies the traditional Neal Morse energy. The thing about Neal's music I really enjoy (as with Hogarth era Marillion) is even when the music is much quieter, there's still that awesome power.

One ends with the "Reunion Suite", accompanied by a nice horn section, and along with the piano reminds me of classic Elton John. As moving as One begins, Neal brings it all to a close with that winning spirit that always puts a grin on my face. In an age of dark music, it's nice to have a voice rising above and shouting things like "I LOVE IT" behind the music. I thank God for the music of Neal Morse.

The entire disc as a whole is not of this earth. Neal is going through a life changing spiritual awakening that he's sharing with us all. A man who isn't afraid to wear his emotions on his sleeve and provide for us music that is real! As real as the subject matter. Keep it up, Neal!

Review by greenback
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
4 stars This progressive record is very long, lasting nearly 80 minutes. Globally, it sounds like the Transatlantic and Kansas bands: it is not surprising since Mike Portnoy plays the drums and Neal Morse himself sings and plays the guitars and the keyboards. The keyboards are really vintage, featuring piano, mellotron, Fender Rhodes, moog and organ, among others. There are sometimes horns & strings arrangements that add some grandeur to the ensemble.

The album starts with an amazing progressive epic track "The Creation", lasting nearly 20 minutes; IMO this track is among the best ones from this record; it contains some impressive strings & horns arrangements, which give an "American patriotic" character to the song.

On the soothing & acoustic "Man's gone", Neal's vocals are just the male version of Amy Grant's; as this was not enough, this folkier track is a toss between the beauty's stuff and Kansas' "Dust in the wind".

"Author of confusion" starts with a very energic set of electric guitar riffs, which reminds me a slower Liquid Tension Experiment. The song has a VERY impressive vocals interplay that has nothing to envy from the Gentle Giant's "On Reflection" song; it is immediately followed by a sublime & relaxing part where the Fender Rhodes sounds a bit like the one on the early Vangelis' albums, like Earth and The Dragon.

The epic "The separated man", lasting around 17 minutes, is a bit unequal and slightly less addictive and catchy: the first 8 minutes have some unconvincing mellow bits containing Fender Rhodes and vocals, which could have been shortened or arranged differently; when the piano enters at the 8th minute, then things seem to get better: many parts sound like Kansas, as reveal the typical violin and the acoustic guitars arrangements.

"Cradle to the grave" is a folkier ballad that gradually increases in intensity, beauty and emotion: Neal co-sings with Phil Keaggy, who has a very good voice too.

"Help me/The Spirit and the Flesh" contains a very addictive rhythmic piano; there are some excellent backing vocals a la Kansas, some impressive Spanish guitar arrangements; again, the Transatlantic similarity is more than obvious.

The many strings arrangements on "Father of forgiveness" embellish this graceful track.

The rhythmic horns parts on the first half of "Reunion" give an interesting & different facet regarding how Neal can be versatile; the EXCELLENT second half of the song illustrates the perfect combination of structure, refinement and elegance, applied on the miscellaneous male & female vocals involved; the symphonic end is just simply bombastic!

It certainly takes more than one listen to really digest this quasi-masterpiece!

Rating: 4.5 stars

Review by Mellotron Storm
4 stars I think anyone who is a fan of SPOCK'S BEARD and TRANSATLANTIC will enjoy this release. There are some nuggets in the bonus disc as well, like "Back To The Garden" bringing to mind the Joni Mitchell written "Woodstock". And "Day After Day" a BADFINGER cover is fantastic, while "I'm Free / Sparks" is my favourite of the bonus material, featuring some outstanding guitar and Neal shouting "I'm free" which certainly has more meaning then the original rendition.

Highlighs for me on the first disc are the chorus in "The Creation" as well as Phil Keaggy's guitar solo. This man is one of the greatest guitarist's of our generation.There is mellotron played during the "One Mind", "In A Perfect Light" and "Where Are You" sections of "The Creation". "The Man's Gone" is a really cool sounding with reserved gentle vocals that I like a lot. My favourite though is the song "Author Of Confusion" opening with heavy, pounding drums and a terrific guitar melody that just smokes.There are GENTLE GIANT-like vocal arrangments and check out Portnoy 9 minutes in, do you think he's having a blast ! I kind of wish this song was heavy throughout instead of the about face after 5 minutes.

"The Seperated Man" is the other epic with mellotron during the "I'm In A Cage" section. I like the "I Am the Man" section best, there is another great guitar solo too.I have to admit i'm not too fond of "Cradle To The Grave", the syrup is flowing too much for me. While "Father Of Forgiveness" and "Reunion" I find both rather weak. I guess if i'm going to sit and listen to a cd for almost 80 minutes the last two tracks better be amazing, and these two are far from that. The sixth song "Help Me / The spirit And The Flesh" has a jazzy feel at times and some good guitar, but how uplifting is "The Spirit And The Flesh" section !

Although this record has it's warts, there certainly is enough great material to give it 4 stars.

Review by Chicapah
4 stars After being pleasantly surprised by the high quality of "?" I was moved to get Neal's "One" from 2004 and I have to report that it, too, is excellent. I worried slightly that the two albums might sound a lot alike but that isn't the case. They are distinctly different. I continue to be amazed by Mr. Morse's admirable composition and multiple- instrument skills. As a progressive writer he always comes up with memorable themes and inventive arrangements. Of course it helps greatly to have the incredible Mike Portnoy and the more than competent Randy George as the rhythm section. If I have a criticism it's the confusing lyric narrative but I'll point that out as the review progresses.

"The Creation" starts things off in a positive way with the sprawling symphonic "One Mind" theme that leads to an exhilarating drum performance by Portnoy. "In a Perfect Light" depicts the original man living in the perfect realm of Eden, portrayed musically by roiling cellos underneath a Rhodes piano and featuring a stellar guitar solo by guest Phil Keaggy. "Where are You?" introduces a much darker mood as God looks for Adam and then, after another fantastic drum-led section, gets angry over his disobedience and evicts him from the Garden. "Reaching from the Heart" finds man filled with regret as we hear a wistful return to the original theme. "The Man's Gone" is a classy acoustic piece that describes man now living outside of the grace of God and having to make it on his own. "Author of Confusion" is a fitting musical expression of Lucifer's presence in man's psyche with some hard rocking guitar riffs followed by a carnival-from-Hell atmosphere that features a slurring Mellotron, giving the listener the sensation of walking through a house of mirrors. Then comes the most unique moment on the album with a very jazzy and intricate vocal harmony section. I haven't heard anything like this in progressive rock ever and it is very effective. A Rhodes-propelled respite lyrically describes what I suppose is God asking man "How long 'til you reach for me at last?" and that's where the story gets a bit confusing. (Is He not the one who irately tossed Adam out on his ear?) Anyway, the jazzy vocals return and we are treated to Portnoy tearing it up brilliantly as the song comes to an end. Mike is a monster.

"The Separated Man" starts with the self-explanatory "I'm in a Cage" which is an excellent rock song on its own. "I am the Man" introduces a sort of Babylonian eastern feel that is quite refreshing and the musicians really make it work as yet another inspired musical theme is introduced. Here man boasts about his material accomplishments and God answers with a "'Till you come home I won't let you rest" refrain. (Again, isn't He the one who put Adam on the road and far away from home in the first place?) What follows is one of the best parts of the album. A reprise of "The Man's Gone" leads to an instrumental passage that is marvelous. Keaggy contributes a stunning acoustic and electric guitar lead that makes me want to hear more from this exciting artist. I have to inject here that Neal's overall guitar work is on the up and up, too. He's no slouch by any means. "Something within me remembers" ends this section with man vaguely recalling that there was a time when he "was a part of everything." What follows is an absolutely drop-dead-gorgeous tune called "Cradle to the Grave" which is a sort of conversation between man and God describing their dilemma of being estranged. Keaggy adds his vocal to the song and his soothing tone reminds me of Bob Weir of the Grateful Dead. When the chorus comes in behind them the tune literally levitates and is the high point of the album.

"Help Me/The Spirit and the Flesh" picks the pace back up with an infectious Spanish rhythmic feel. Morse's acoustic and electric guitar work is notable here. A flowing piano section draws us into the second half of the song as God answers man's desperate call for help by sending Christ. Riding heavy, driving music we progress to the big ending of the tune that features the original theme. "Father of Forgiveness" has an obvious parable of the prodigal son reference that starts slowly, then builds to a chorale-led ending. "Reunion" is an expression of man and God coming together as "one" again with a Chicago horn section-like atmosphere. It is a somewhat predictable song of rejoicing that is very enthusiastically performed. In the second part, "Grand Finale," Mike Portnoy again puts on a clinic that Gene Krupa would be proud of and makes your heart race. I am now convinced that the boy can expertly play any style of music there is. "Make us One" ends the proceedings with an orchestral return to the main theme and a fitting piano coda. At almost 80 minutes of music you might expect a few moments of tedium here and there but there really isn't. I never got bored for a second.

If you enjoy symphonic prog and have yet to get on board with Neal Morse (as well as his previous work with Spock's Beard) then I encourage you to give him a try. His more recent spiritual themes can be confusing at times but he is rarely "preachy" and the music is always top notch and very intelligently written and engineered. I look forward to more from him in the years to come.

Review by Flucktrot
4 stars A masterpiece of progressive music? Probably not, and I think Neal Morse would be just fine with that. His goal seems to be laying down high quality progressive rock that communicates fairly complex issues of faith and commitment, while also leaving time to do some straightforward praise songs. I don't mind praise songs, but I'm interested in this album for the prog, and the prog to praise song ratio is more than high enough to make this a worthwhile purchase.

The Creation, The Man's Gone. This is just a superb piece of prog, followed by a haunting cool-down tune. Not only is the writing, instrumentation, and actual playing fantastic, the lyrics and tones really fit to the songs' main purpose. A song about the creation has plenty of potential for overblown pomposity, but Morse takes the smart strategy and just offers his impression of the creation, original sin, and redemption: This isn't a strict Bible story, which is part of why it works. Kudos to the rhythm section of George and Portnoy--they are rarely in the forefront, but they add a consistent energy, and listening specifically to their contributions is always rewarding. Also, Morse also is often criticized by varying his singing (sometimes for good reason), but here all his experimenting works very well--I think he sounds great.

Author of Confusion. This probably reminds me most of Morse's Beard work. Heavier than the rest of the album, this song perhaps emhasizes variation to the detriment of cohesiveness. Definitely an effective changeup.

The Separated Man. More great prog, though maybe a step down in quality from The Creation. A backbeat, rocking intro slows to an uneven middle section. It's worth sticking through, because the instrumental section that follows is spectacular. After being teased multiple times, the acoustic riff slowly builds to a great conclusion. Excellent stuff!

Help Me, Reunion. Here is where the truly progressive material ends, but these songs are packed with plenty of great melodies, rocking bits, entertaining guitar lines, choirs, variations on previous themes, and truly inspiring string arrangements that I have yet to tire of them. Nothing groundbreaking, but just great music.

Cradle to Grave, Father of Forgiveness. If you don't want to be preached to, avoid these and stick to the prog numbers. Morse has made it as simple as that. These songs are fairly cliche, but they are well done and potentially inspiring, given a certain demographic.

To be honest, I have enjoyed the heck out of this album! This is great music: it energizes me, interests me, and resonates with me. It's not a progressive masterpiece, but that should by no means prevent you from owning it!

Review by LiquidEternity
4 stars For One, Neal gets his feet back under him, and he writes a solid progressive rock album.

Gone is the idea of sticking with a single sound or feel for a whole album. Here, the man plays with some spacey moods, some metal insanity, even a bit of ska. One details the Christian journey through the allegory of the prodigal son-- an allusion that isn't actually necessary to understand going into it, as Neal will fill you in on the important details. Plenty have slammed this album as preachy or obnoxious when it comes to the lyrics, but in truth, Neal reigns himself in fairly successfully for most of the album. The music does not suffer by the concept, and it's not like, for example, anybody who listens to Yes hasn't already learned to enjoy music despite the lyrics.

The two near-20 minute tracks, The Creation and The Separated Man, are probably two of the very strongest here. The Creation is a typical Neal track, with a crescendoing intro and some fun orchestral work. Goofy lyrics that I find highly reminiscent of his Beard years kick of the story of the man in the Garden of Eden. The Separated Man follows man's journey on his own, without God, and Neal styles this appropriately darkly, with some creepy vibes and suddenly leaps of wild intensity. A several-minute acoustic flair-fest fills out the middle of this song, creating a wonderful sense of the fellow's powerful tune-writing ability.

Of further note is Neal's first really heavy song, Author of Confusion. Not only does Neal break out some intense riffs, but Mike Portnoy of Dream Theater finally shows why he's playing the drums on this album. Blasting speed and creative fills mark this as one of the highlight collaborations between the two.The Reunion (final track) features a lot of neat reprisals of The Creation's themes, with the added bonus of brass and even more destructive drumming from Mike.

This album is the proof that many fans needed to understand why Neal left Spock's Beard. Here, the music gets its own legs, gains much more from a lack of the atmosphere of the Beard (which I still love, too, but it just wouldn't work here).

If you are interested in Neal's stuff, maybe through Spock's Beard or Transatlantic, this is the album I recommend you start with. It is both a reflection of Mr. Morse's past works and a foreshadowing of the darker sounds and themes he will play with after this one. It suffers from some weak ballads and some meandering passages, but it is easily worthy of a four star review.

Review by Dim
1 stars Horrible.

One thing about music that will never cease to disgust me is acceptance and complacency. Artists/groups who find themselves in a niche, and refuse to show any signs of innovation or creativity. My only other one star review thus far is Sleepytime gorilla museums "... Of Natural history", and besides that one being completely immature and embarrassing, I can semi respect the group for being completely unique,and for their refusal to obey the groundwork set before them by other prog groups. Mr. Morse however has done nothing to even be considered original, or dare I say progressive.

His music is made of typical and IMO pretentious prog song structures. Most of the songs being around or over the ten minute mark, and have multiple parts, with their own separate names... kind of like Yes' Close to the edge. Not surprisingly the music is overly fluffy, with a very uninspired guitar or keyboard solo to segue into each new theme.To top it off, Mike Portnoy, one of my least favorite underground music super stars is behind the kit, gladly showing off with a forced fill at every chance he can get.

I've grown up in a liberal, yet very christian house hold. I go to Church nearly every Sunday, and I even played in a worship group for quite some time. In doing that I've realised how much I detest christian music, and how utterly mindless it is. I understand that it's a genre meant to be completely lacking in technicality, and is supposed o draw attention away from the singer and to the lyrics. The problem is, is that the lyrics NEVER fail to be anything short of boring and incredibly corny. I cant stand them at all, and the fact that they follow conventional structure makes me cringe more. Neal Morse applies these lyrics to his overly pompous work, proving his lack of the ability to not only come up with semi original music, but original lyrics.

Boring, pretentious, and utterly gross in my opinion. There is nothing here that makes me feel the way I did when I first got into Yes or Genesis. Go ahead and flame my metal, but to compare a band like Cult of Luna or Agalloch who constantly reinvent themselves with every release to a stagnant group like this is just foolish.

Review by Rune2000
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
3 stars Neal Morse followed up his Testimony with another lengthy album. Thankfully thought, this time all the new material fits on one CD!

One mixes many different songs, both style and quality-wise, and unlike the previous work from Neal Morse's solo career it does contain one definite highlight called The Separated Man which incorporates everything I love about his music. This 18 minute performance has excellent melodies combined with the over the top instrumental jam moments that make the time pass by rather quickly. Unfortunately most of the ballads are actually below the usual quality standard, but who cares about that when the lengthy compositions work so well.

This album marked a step in the right direction for Neal's solo career. While the first few albums felt like Neal Morse putting together all of his composed material on whichever album he was releasing at the time, One still suffers from this problem but at least he learned from this and made the next two albums into a real treat of an experience.

***** star songs: The Separated Man (17:58)

**** star songs: The Creation (18:22) Author Of Confusion (9:30) Help Me/The Spirit And The Flesh (11:13)

*** star songs: The Man's Gone (2:50) Cradle To The Grave (4:55) Father of Forgiveness (5:46) Reunion (9:11)

Total rating: 3,94

Review by jampa17
4 stars Is possible that this man just will stop been inspired? I think not...

This is my second approach to this wonderful songwriter and player. Neal Morse seems to be a musician with too many things to say a say it in the most beautiful, complex way to do it. His music is very appealing, accessible, complex and has a lot sense and soul. Is music to hear and believe, not in a Christian way.

I have never cared about the lyrics, sure I won't start in this album, but for all those people who reject this musician just because is Christian, you are missing of something that is wonderful in a musical way. Epic songs of 18 and 17 minutes, energy, change of metrics and time signatures, wonderful epic vocal harmonies and impressive playing. He is a multi instrumentalist man, and he has a very unique way to play keyboards, a total inspiration for me. And the thing that I think is more impressive is how the music flows through the whole album, you can here epic moments near to some complex prog metal and then and acoustic guitar solo and then a more cheese chorus with a lot of vocals going on. Is just that there are some things that seem not to match together, but it does, really. Is about to hear and believe.

If you want to try it out, I just ask you to hear the first three tracks of the album, if you don't like those, maybe you won't like the complete piece, but for me the whole album is strong enough to appeal to any single prog fan. It has it everything we wanted of. Besides, Morse used Mike Portnoy in drums, which is always a plus. Mike is maybe the best drummer in prog of the last 20 years, doing complex and accessible rhythms and phrases and he understands very well what Morse wanted from him.

Maybe the only point that some people might feel a little let down is that there are many cheesy moments. I don't find any problem there, I think there's a cheesy moment inside of all of us, but some people still see "cheese" as something negative, so, you are warned.

This is pure prog rock, it has everything and deserves a try for all of us, prog fans. 4.5 stars, reaching almost perfection. Give it a try, you won't regret it.

Review by Neu!mann
3 stars The challenge here is to offer an impartial judgement of something that amounts to little more than a musical sermon, wielding its superstitious Christian faith with sincere but starry-eyed fanaticism...and already it seems I'm not off to a very good start. Oh, well: the path to hell is paved with good intentions, as Samuel Johnson famously didn't say...

Let's try it again. For a lapsed Episcopalian any album by Neal Morse probably can't help being a definitive guilty pleasure. And this year 2004 solo effort is no exception, highlighting some of the best and worst music yet written by the erstwhile SPOCK'S BEARD frontman.

First, the good news (not The Good News, please take note!)...Morse is, as always, an incredibly talented songwriter, with a prolific gift for epic musical arrangements, an ear for memorable song hooks, and a laudable appreciation for golden age Progressive Rock superseded only by his (sadly) dogmatic religious beliefs. His skills are in fact great enough to make it very easy to overlook the inconvenient fact that his copycat Prog aesthetics haven't advanced much in the fifteen years since the debut of SPOCK'S BEARD (more about that below).

Ignoring his strident evangelism for the moment, there's some good stuff here. "The Man's Gone" is one of the more evocative ballads in a catalogue already overstuffed with gems, ending in a delicate acoustic guitar filigree that foreshadows an energetic solo spot two songs later, a good example of Morse's affection for leitmotifs and large-scale album structure. "Author of Confusion" is a convoluted macho rocker with ties to the verbal and instrumental eclecticism of GENTLE GIANT.

(...a quick digression: why do so many outspoken Prog Rock bible-thumpers -- think of AJALON's "Lullaby in Bedlam", or "Circus Brimstone" by THE FLOWER KINGS, or TRANSATLANTIC's "Duel With the Devil" -- seem to draw their strongest musical inspiration from none other than Old Scratch?)

And the eighteen-minute, four-part epic "The Separated Man" may be the zenith of his career thus far. This is a Prog Rock suite of real ambition and scope, with moments of genuine emotional power, proving a point that Morse too often overlooks these days: the music itself is always the best message, not the other way around...

...Which leads us, inevitably, to the bad news about the album. Lyric writing has never been Morse's strongest attribute. And his vocal delivery can sometimes tend toward hyper- emotional melodrama. Combine those two unfortunate traits alongside a lot of over- earnest, artless proselytizing and the results can be like hearing fingernails scraped down a stained glass window, with lyrics rarely straying beyond the superficial level of lines like, "We live to praise His name!" (Don't presume, Neal: a lot of us don't subscribe to the idea of a supernatural patriarch who micromanages the lives of every creature on Earth according to some primitive system of eternal rewards and punishments.)

Songs like "Father of Forgiveness" and "Cradle to the Grave" exhibit these tendencies at their absolutely lowest common denominator, each one (and elsewhere) dripping with enough sanctimonious bathos to baptize an entire congregation of sinners. And the supposedly joyous epiphany of the climactic "Reunion" sounds conspicuously forced, not unlike a slap-dash Hollywood happy ending tacked onto a film by a nervous producer worried about the weekend box office. "I love it!" shouts Neal at one point, apparently trying to generate some spontaneous enthusiasm.

Another gripe, as mentioned earlier, is the way Morse's Neo-Prog conservatism too often leads him to repeat familiar motifs and musical themes from earlier efforts. To cite just one example: the eighteen-plus minute album opener "The Creation" shows a striking resemblance to the early TRANSATLANTIC epic "All of the Above", right down to the same jazzy keyboard improvisation and slow, melodic mid-section. It all leads, of course, to a stately grand-finale, like every Neo Prog suite repeating the opening song at a slower tempo, with bass pedals for emphasis (a trick borrowed from the blueprint of the GENESIS classic "Supper's Ready").

Memo to Neal: in the early 1970s the best Progressive Rock actually progressed. Turning back the clock with your medieval religious convictions doesn't mean you need to do the same with your songwriting.

But in the end the music itself, minus all the lyrical soul-searching, is what finally redeems the album. It's too bad that Morse insists on alienating much of his fan base by using the recording studio as a pulpit: nobody was ever converted to monotheism by listening to a rock album, even such a well played, well produced one as this . It was, by the way, my own first exposure to the music of Neal Morse beyond SPOCK'S BEARD, and I'm happy to say I'm still an atheist, thank God.

He's singing from his heart, which is what any true musician needs to do. But it's hard to imagine any lasting reward to be gained from preaching to the choir.

Review by Tarcisio Moura
4 stars This was my first entry into Neil Morseīs solo discography. Although Iīm not a fan of Spockīs Beard I was curious enough to hear some of his latter work since I heard so much praising for it. And I thought this album would be a good choice. Although his new found faith in christianity may have limited his lyrics in a way, it seems to have given him also a lot of inspiration on the musical side. yes, the record is about Jesus and all, itīs kind of preachy alright, and yet Iīm not bothered by that, because in the end the music is all that counts. And musically I can say this album is a triumph. the guy really knows how to make great music and deliver it with passion and precision.

One is one of those rare cases where the influences are clear, and still itīs very original. Yes, Genesis, Beatles and some Gentle Giant are the obvious sources of inspiration and traits of those groups can be found all over the CD. But donīt look for anything explicit, since Neil Morseīs talent ensured that those elements are only part of the formula. The music here is very much Morseīs own version of prog. Nothing overly complex for its own sake, but working for the music. And he proves to be an excelelnt singer, songwriter, keyboardsman and guitarrist. And he is helped by equally skilled musicians (Randy George on bass and ex Dream Theater Mike Portnoy on drums, plus a few guests). The results are awesome: the music is a fine example of talent, technique and taste all put together for the best results possible. If some of his stuff sounds simple at first sight, listen to it again. Youīll find very fine subtle parts that make this CD something to be enjoyed a little more with every new hearing.

The right production only enhances the tremendous musicanship of all involved and the excellent, elaborated compositions that make this CD extremely well craft. It is ok that the quality of the songs vary, but thery are excelent or at least very good, except maybe the slightly corny The Reunion. The best ones to me are the magnificent the 17+ The Separated man and the opener The Creation, another great epic.

Iīm looking forward to hear some of his prolific works soon. This one was a very nice surprise and even if you donīt like all those christian preaching, the music here is top quality and a must have for any symphonic prog fan.

Rating: 4.5 stars. Highly recommended.

Review by AtomicCrimsonRush
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
5 stars An 80 minute journey into the spiritual creative mind of Neal Morse is always going to be a delight. I had listened to the 'One Demos' album before this as it was cheap and easy to obtain. This featured outtakes and demo versions of these tracks that are the finished product. As a consequence I became very used to the demo unfinished versions. It was quite a surprise to finally hear how the songs turned out, not necessarily better, but definitely more polished and complex in terms of musicianship and structure. The album is a masterpiece from the great man that features some of most celebrated material.

It features two colossal epics, 'The Creation', and 'The Separated Man' that together clock 36 wonderful minutes of heavy to ambient emotionally-charged prog. Both songs are segemented into many sections, in the classic progressive style of a multi movement suite, many songs seamlessly becoming one, and both are in four distinct sections. They are also the best tracks on offer here. 'The Separated Man' is my favourite, with some gorgeous keyboard melancholia and some of the most beautiful acoustic guitar from the dextrous hand of Christian guitar legend Phil Keaggy. The songs follow the Biblical account of the fall of man, how he rejected God, the pursuit of God for man to find redemption, and consequently how we became separated by our sin from God, and ultimately how we can be brought back to God through Jesus Christ. Whether one believes in this or not there is no disputing the power of the music and the absolute brilliance of the melodic vocals and awesome musicianship.

Neal Morse plays keyboards, and some guitars, but it is his dominant crystalline vocals that lift this album into the heavens. Randy George is reliable on bass guitar and the power of Mike Portnoy's percussion is flawless. 'The Creation' is a tour de force of symphonic orchestration mixed with passages of heavy prog and ambient beauty, depending on the storyline. It is meant to capture the creation of the planet at the hands of God who said 'Let There be Light' and man 'received the breath of life' in Genesis. The account of Adam and Eve, and the creation of the Earth, is by no means an original theme to bass an epic on as others have done so before, including early Genesis, The Flower Kings and PFM, but this version must be the most spiritual coming from a true believer. The passion of the vocals and music is unsurpassed; majestic and purely emotional. The music is always bright and uplifting; the keyboard runs, melodies and guitars work well together to create a positive atmosphere. Morse does not hold back with his lyrics about living to 'Praise His name' and utilising Biblical passages paraphrased to suit the music. It ends with the cry of God to Adam 'why are you hiding?' with Morse in his heaviest angry voice. This theme will appeal to the Christian as well as those who simply want to be blown away by incredible music. The lyrics really are uncompromising but it is all Bible based and is quite a mesmirising journey if you allow it to soak through your system. It makes a nice change from all the dark prog that is churned out.

'Author of Confusion' is another passionate composition with very soulful vocals and sweet melodies. It begins with a raucous prog tempo and then settles into beautiful harmonies and Mellotron. This is followed by melancholia and deepest heartfelt vocals with 'Cradle to the Grave'. I liked the version better on 'One Demos' as it follows seamlessly from the wonderful prog instrumental 'Mayhem' with heavy riffs and very powerful time sigs, thus balancing it out perfectly into quiet refelction after blazing guitars; like the calm following a tempestuous storm.

'Help Me/The Spirit and the Flesh' is a gorgeous spirit filled song, encompassing piano and jazz fills that lifts the spirit up, and the lovely melodies of 'Father of Forgiveness' has become a favourite ballad among the fan base. The album ends with the glorious 'Reunion' in 3 parts, making a splendiferous finale. Overall, this is an astonishing conceptual album with some of the all time greatest material from Neal Morse.

Review by Warthur
4 stars For his second prog solo album (Neal had also put out other solo albums in other genres prior to this), Neal Morse changed tack a little. Testimony was a sprawling double concept album, a sort of mirror image of Neal's final album with Spock's Beard which took as its core theme his life story and his decision to shift out of band life so he could spend more time focusing on his faith (both in his everyday life and in his music). It was all composed by Morse by himself, and the other musicians there were essentially just along to help out.

This time, around, Neal starts getting a nucleus of collaborators around him - the key pair being Mike Portnoy and Randy George, both of whom also get songwriting credits alongside Neal. (It's no surprise that this rhythm section would eventually go on to be the backbone of the Neal Morse Band.) Mike, of course, needs no introduction to prog audiences for his role in Dream Theater, and was a bandmate of Neal's in Transatlantic; Randy, for his part, came up in the Christian prog group Ajalon, and having a collaborator along who'd been tackling the challenge of creating intellectually challenging prog music in a Christian context was doubtless invaluable.

There's a wide range of guest musicians here, as there were on Testimony, but it's Neal and that rhythm section who are right at the core of the music, and I think it's helpful for Neal to have some collaborators as closely involved with the composition and overall structure of the album as Mike and Randy are here; the album definitely feels like it benefits from having a deeper bench of creative ideas to draw on in comparison to Testimony, which was solid but was kind of Neal Morse business as usual. In particular, the combination of Mike's drumming technique and a dynamic bassist in the form of Randy George is a little reminiscent of some of what Transatlantic were doing on their first two albums, which will be pleasing to listeners who enjoyed those releases.

It's concept album o'clock once again, but this time Neal and crew limit themselves to a single disc. The chosen subject matter is the parable of the Prodigal Son, and obviously as a story of a straying person who comes back to the right path there's a touch of thematic overlap with Testimony, but the approach is different enough to ensure this doesn't turn into Testimony Disc 3.

It's also a good choice of subject matter because whilst it's clearly meaningful to Neal in the course of his own personal spiritual journey, it's also a tale which is widely beloved enough that you don't necessarily need to subscribe to Neal's specific views in order to appreciate the narrative here. "Christian rock" of the sort which is made by and sold to Christians semi-exclusively has a reputation of sometimes being a bit narrowly doctrinaire and unimaginative in its subject matter - and not for no reason - but Neal adeptly manages to avoid falling into this trap whilst still presenting his personal perspective in an unabashed and unashamed manner: he's offering this artistic vision to all listeners, but he's making no bones about where he personally stands, and even though I'm not aligned with him when it comes to my spiritual views I have to respect that.

Review by apps79
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
4 stars With ''Testimony'' Morse actually got back on track of a second-born highly prolific career.Along with Mike Portnoy he played on The Beatles' cover band Yellow Matter Custard, while at the same time he prepared his second concept album ''One'', based on the relationship of God with a Christian man.He established a supporting duo with Mike Portnoy on drums and Randy George of Ajalon on bass, while Morse was responsible for guitars, keyboards and vocals.Of course the album again features a long list of guest musicians like Phil Keaggy on guitars or Chris Carmichael on strings.''One'' was eventually released on Inside Out in November 2004.

To talk about the concept is needless, it actually depends on what anyone believes religionally speaking.To talk about the music of Morse though is more than interesting.''One'' is compiled by one CD of almost 80 minutes of music, split in three epic tracks and some shorter compositions, and the composition level is on par with the best of THE FLOWER KINGS or SPOCK'S BEARD.Very tight and grandiose musicianship all the way, exploring the fundamentals of 70's Prog music in a contemporary way.The blend of modern and vintage sounds in melodic and deeply atmospheric textures remains Morse's biggest weapon and the main reason the man is regarded as one of the leading figures of Progressive Rock, maybe a member of a future Prog Hall of Fame.The long tracks are full of orchestral arrangements, spicy interplays, strong breaks and sufficient melodies, filled with balanced vocal- and instrumental parts.The use of analog keyboards next to the bombastic synthesizers and the atmospheric piano lines of Morse lead the way, though there are strong amounts of great guitar lines with both sensitive solos and more aggressive riffs.The compositions are trully magnificent with a strange twist from rich and powerful venues to lighter, more emotional textures.There has been some fantastic work done also in the vocal department, full of demanding harmonies and multi-vocal crescendos, one of the best vocal performances in a Prog album.Anyone into Classic Prog ala GENTLE GIANT, GENESIS, YES, GENTLE GIANT or KING CRIMSON will simply love Neal Morse's personal career.

Another highlight in Neal Morse's career.His departure from Spock's Beard seems to have worked as a rebirth and ''One'' is an excellent release of Classic Progressive Rock, served with today's standards.Highly recommended.

Review by b_olariu
4 stars Neal Morse is one of the major figures in progressive rock in last 20 years, with each band where he was involved done great things and inventive and monumental passages. He was member of world known Spock's Beard, Transatlantic and also other colaborations with other bands, always keeping high standards. He also has a prolific solo career for more then 15 years, where we can find from mediocre to good and even realy brilliant releases. One of his most acomplished album he done over the years and one of the best of the last decade in symphonic prog field is without doubt One released in 2004 through Inside out. The songwritting the musicianship is top notch, reminescent of his former band Spock's Beard but also from Transatlantic elements taken, he did a great job here, from vocal department to the excellent instrumental passages. The album is like a single ong track dicided in 8 pieces, the flow from one piece to another is natural and very well performed. Also here is a great list of guests. What strike me on this album is how easy musician play or how great is integrated in the music the lyrics, who has like on other solo album of his a spiritual context, nevertheless great used here. The music is great and complicated passages, from mellow and acustic portions to more uptempo, the musicians are always in top form every second they play. The instrumental sections are great, the complexity of some parts are truly amazing, like on The Creation nearly 18 min pure bliss. Well a great album for sure, and desearve to be this way, because he realy done it with this album, 4 stars for sure a real listning experience. Recommended , I guess among his best workd since the beggining of his career, and in same league with his another solo works as ? or Sola scriptura.

Latest members reviews

5 stars For all my years in high school I had played keyboard for my church, which involved playing repetitive chord changes that usually consisted of the progression I-V-vi-IV or some other variation. Seeing a subtonic chord was as far outside the key that you would ever get. The lyrics usually con ... (read more)

Report this review (#784610) | Posted by Amilisom | Sunday, July 8, 2012 | Review Permanlink

4 stars One is the second fully prog solo album from Ex-Spock's Beard Neal Morse. The album has all of Neal's fantastic melodies and compositional idiosyncrasies. What makes this album so great is the guest musicians who really spice up the sound with orchestral instrumentation, which also includes Mike Po ... (read more)

Report this review (#771395) | Posted by Mr. Mustard | Friday, June 15, 2012 | Review Permanlink

4 stars 'One' is one of many great Neal Morse albums. Wonderful. One day all albums will be like this (!). Seriously.. a great album and only occasionally does the christian stuff get in the way ('Cradle to the grave' is a bit sickly). Just immerse yourself in the fantastic prog/pop/rock fusion on offe ... (read more)

Report this review (#483970) | Posted by jsmidg | Saturday, July 16, 2011 | Review Permanlink

5 stars Finally there is a Christian Progressive Mastermind. Neal Morse is perhaps the biggest blessing in the Christian music industry, although most will never be graced by this man's genuis. One was my 1st Morse album, man is it a great one. The opening track The Creation merits five starts alone ... (read more)

Report this review (#393247) | Posted by AlexDOM | Thursday, February 3, 2011 | Review Permanlink

5 stars This is my favourite solo albun by Neal Morse. He has a lot of great songs and albuns, but for me this is one of his best.Listen to portnoy's drumming (brilliant) in author of confusion.Father of forgiveness is also great.Listen to it as aa whole and not for a few songs.It's because of records ... (read more)

Report this review (#349582) | Posted by npinho | Friday, December 10, 2010 | Review Permanlink

5 stars Another great masterpiece by Neal Morse. "One" is even better than its predecessor, the "rock opera" "Testimony ": it covers a more general concept, then the creation of the world. "The Creation" is a powerful epic that opens the album with a lot energy.Some his initial theme is the same that pla ... (read more)

Report this review (#319906) | Posted by voliveira | Sunday, November 14, 2010 | Review Permanlink

4 stars I have mixed feelings with the solo albums from Mr.Morse. In one side I consideer Neal Morse the progressive man of the century, his work with Spock's Beard and his solo Christian side, are the best that we can hear actually. Great songs beautiful constructions, superb arrangements and top no ... (read more)

Report this review (#280183) | Posted by davidgil1980 | Saturday, May 1, 2010 | Review Permanlink

5 stars Wow, Neal is a musician, who basically procreates amazing music. This album was a must have for me, after I had heard Sola Scriptora (check my review on how I believe it is the greatest album ever made). Now a fully fledged Morse fan, I ordered One online and recieved it on Halloween...oooh s ... (read more)

Report this review (#259454) | Posted by arcane-beautiful | Tuesday, January 5, 2010 | Review Permanlink

5 stars Some speak better or worse Neal Morse in its early Spock's Beard, but is considering his musical evolution and after leaving the group, I think that it alone "is more productive." The album in question is what is most progressive and most symphonic of the artist. With pleasant melodies and abl ... (read more)

Report this review (#250458) | Posted by nandprogger | Saturday, November 14, 2009 | Review Permanlink

5 stars The brilliance of Neal Morse's "One" is in the presentation of its concept - man walking with God, and man walking apart from God. Neal captures the spirit of these existences with well-crafted symphonic rock music and melodies, and great lyrics and song-writing. The concept is held together very ni ... (read more)

Report this review (#246808) | Posted by Kassimatis | Wednesday, October 28, 2009 | Review Permanlink

4 stars A man with a gift - Neal Morse has something special. I don't mean his faith - it's not interesting for me: he has the gift of melody making, and crafting superb music. He demonstrated it with Spock's Beard, and he continued with his solo works. This ONE, I've got to comment it, just to tell how y ... (read more)

Report this review (#233401) | Posted by ingmin68 | Friday, August 21, 2009 | Review Permanlink

5 stars This is one of the best progressive rock albums ever crafted. I know I am biased. I know I am a Neal Morse "fanboy". I know that in my eyes Neal Morse can do no wrong. But, putting that all aside, this album contains every thing I love about not only progressive rock, but music and life in gen ... (read more)

Report this review (#228001) | Posted by natewait | Thursday, July 23, 2009 | Review Permanlink

5 stars Let me start by saying that im not attached to any religion. That being said, Neal Morse is probably one of the best prog song composers out there. Whether he gets his inspiration because of his christianity or any other source of inspiration is irrelevant to the final product. To all the people ... (read more)

Report this review (#183258) | Posted by Fulg0re | Monday, September 22, 2008 | Review Permanlink

5 stars Neal Morse has produced four excellent solo albums with a religious theme; Sola Scriptura, Testimony and ? (Question) being the others. My favourite, Sola Scriptura, alternates between heavy rock and delicious melodies whereas "One" strikes more of a middle ground. There is less angry rock guita ... (read more)

Report this review (#148598) | Posted by alextorres2 | Friday, November 2, 2007 | Review Permanlink

2 stars This is the second album by Neal after leaving the Spock's Beard. As the first "Testimony" I find that the music is without inspiration, forced to be built up in a fixed way. It seems as Neal composes his music always in the same manner, almost monotone. Not always the biggest mind of a group, wh ... (read more)

Report this review (#126293) | Posted by progpromoter | Tuesday, June 19, 2007 | Review Permanlink

3 stars Neal Morse, ex-Spock's Beard leading man, would have a spiritual turn around while still a member of SB. He left Spock's Beard to expand on the possibilities with Christian themes and progressive music. In doing so, not only would he create many pieces of uplifting and pious proportions, but he w ... (read more)

Report this review (#126280) | Posted by Shakespeare | Monday, June 18, 2007 | Review Permanlink

4 stars Between the spirit and the flesh I love this album. I knew Neal Morse's music with this work. I'm a Christian, then I was glad when I discovered "One". And, then, I'm "between the spirit and the flesh" when I write these lines. But I'll try to be objective about this Morse's piece. The lirycs ... (read more)

Report this review (#121213) | Posted by Marcos | Monday, May 7, 2007 | Review Permanlink

4 stars First of all I'm not a devoted Christian, heck I'm not even religious at all. So for this album I tried to somewhat ignore the lyrics as they can be very cheesy and corny (unless you are someone who needs to listen to faith reaffirming lyrics). The music however is probably as good, or even bet ... (read more)

Report this review (#109109) | Posted by Autoband | Saturday, January 27, 2007 | Review Permanlink

3 stars This was my first experience with Neal Morse solo material. I was very wary of hearing a Christian prog album in general, and though Snow (his last Beard album) was a somewhat ambiguous spiritual album, I had been put off by the lyrics in the second half of it's second CD. But I kept seeing rev ... (read more)

Report this review (#108874) | Posted by | Thursday, January 25, 2007 | Review Permanlink

1 stars I gave it a chance but after a few listens, I just couldn't take it anymore. There's about 10% interesting prog and the rest sounds like those awful "Praise and Worship" albums they advertise late at night. If it was interesting enough musically, I could overlook the asinine "Sunday School" lyric ... (read more)

Report this review (#104839) | Posted by EvilGnome | Friday, December 29, 2006 | Review Permanlink

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