Morse, Neal: One
As a follow up to Testimony, Neal Morse really out does himself again with
the release of One. After the release of Testimony a lot of questions came into my mind. One main question I had asked myself was, how is Neal going to do something both musically and lyrically that surpasses the power of Testimony? I honestly don' t think that Testimony can be topped. In my opinion as I have stated before, it is one of the best albums in rock history. However, in regards to One I don't see it as an album that can be compared to Testimony. The concept of this album is a story about a man who drifts apart from God and goes through many struggles until he eventually finds God again. Whereas, Testimony is about Neal's struggles in finding God.
Musically, I view One as a kind of transgression back to Neal's roots with
Spock's Beard and Transatlantic. For example, a lot of the passages on the
album, especially on "The Creation" contain many riffs and melodies similar to
both Spock's Beard and Transatlantic. Lyrically, I view the album as a true
success. The album contains excellent lyrics and has an overall positive
message of how we as humans need to get back to the times when we were created and
were much closer to God. It is true that we are all One mind as we are
created by the almighty father to live and experience life and to also praise he
who created. In modern times we as humans have grown further and further
apart from God as we are so caught up in daily obstacles such as greed, power,
and the material world. This album suggests that we need to get back to being
one with the lord our God, and that it should be taken seriously and put into action.
The first song on the album, "The Creation" is probably one of my personal
favorites. It just starts off with the big grandiouse orchestrated beginning
and then it leads into a cool Spock's Beard type of keyboard and guitar melody.
This riff kind of reminds me of "The End Of The Day". One thing I found very
interesting is that in the beginning of the orchestrated part there are
sounds that are similar to a melody in "Sleeping Jesus". This song definitely
displays how well Neal, Mike, and Randy actually play. There is also a cool 13/8
part in this song that is quite similar to Transatlantic. This song will
defintely go down as one of Neal's best works.
One of the more heavier selections on the album is "Author Of Confusion".
This is definitely one of Neal's heaviest works. I wonder if Mr. Portnoy had
anything to with the direction with this song. Also the vocal harmonies in
this song are great as they are the typical Morse counter vocal melodies
reminiscent to the vocal harmony section following the guitar solo in "Colder In the
Sun" and the verse line in "Gibberish". It would be a real treat to see Neal,
Mike, and Randy pull this one off live.
I don't want to ruin the end for all of you music listeners who haven't
bought the album, but there seems to be a happy ending as the man in the story
finds God. It is quite evident at this point in the story that the man has
found God with the last two songs being called "Father of Forgiveness" and
"Reunion". "Father of Forgiveness" is basically about what the title states; God is
always forgiving of us and will always accept our love with open arms. In
"Reunion" the man finally becomes One again with God.
In overview this album is definitely one of Neal's greatest works. It is
also one of the best concept albums that Neal has released. There is also a special edition to this album which contain a couple of bonus tracks and some cool covers such as The Who's "I'm Free", and George Harrison's "What is Life?". This album is already in stores, so what are you waiting for?
The Creation - 18:22
I) One Mind
II) In a Perfect Light
III) Where Are You?
IV) Reaching from the Heart
The Man's Gone - 2:50
Author of Confusion - 9:30
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
Cradle to the Grave - 4:55
Help Me/The Spirit and the Flesh - 11:13
Father of Forgiveness - 5:46
Reunion - 9:11
I) No Separation
II) Grand Finale
III) Make Us One
Bonus Disc (Special Edition only)
Back to the Garden - 4:26
Nothing to Believe - 3:29
Cradle to the Grave (Neal's Voc) - 4:55
King Jesus - 4:48
What Is Life? - 4:28
Where the Streets Have No Name - 5:46
Day After Day - 3:25
Chris Carmichael's - Aria 1:07
I'm Free / Sparks - 6:36
Added: April 25th 2005
Reviewer: Josh Petraglia
Related Link: Neal Morse Online
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|Morse, Neal: One
Posted by Murat Batmaz, SoT Staff Writer on 2005-04-25 20:00:51
It must have been a challenging task for Neal Morse to follow up his previous album Testimony, which not only was his comeback as a solo artist but also a fantastic album in many ways. One, his new output, is another successful release, differing from its predecessor slightly. It is less autobiographical and more progressive. On the other hand, the concept of the album has still heavy religious overtones - they're just less in-your-face and a bit more general. Testimony was a very personal disc for Morse, as its lyrics were directly inspired by his own life. One sees him exploring religious themes on a larger scope. Some people might be turned off by the lyrics on this album; but personally, I'm not the least bit annoyed. The music, vocal melodies, and songwriting are too good to ignore the album just because of its lyrical message.
That said, if you're familiar with Morse's back catalog, all the parts on One are things you may have already heard. There isn't anything ground-breaking or overtly original here; but the trademark Neal Morse sound is still all over the place. It's just that, listening to this album, you will find yourself going back to various records in Morse's discography, mostly the first two Spock's Beard discs, some of the proggy stuff of Transatlantic, and the orchestral side of Testimony. Needless to say, Morse still remains as unrivaled as ever with his love for Beatles melodies in the vocals and Gentle Giant influence in his songwriting. The inclusion of Dream Theater's Mike Portnoy on drums shows as well - not only does Portnoy play the drums amazingly, but he must have had a finger in the song arrangements this time as well. I definitely get a more subtle Transatlantic vibe on this disc, which makes it more proggy than Testimony. There are parts written with the intention of giving Portnoy the opportunity to shine as a brilliant drummer. Note the four-minute instrumental beginning of "The Creation" where Portnoy places intricate rhythms between the guitar and bass sound. He is also incredibly rocking during the breakdown of "Author of Confusion", quite possibly the heaviest song Neal Morse has ever written. This, too, has a long drawn-out instrumenal beginning before it delves into its multi-layered chorus. Randy George plays full, fat and round bass lines through the entire song and Neal handles the guitar work successfully. I love all his solos on this disc - he should work with Morse forever!
Phil Keaggy guests on the album offering electric and acoustic guitar solos and some vocals as well. His electric solo on "The Creation" is fantastic; but this 18-minute epic is amazing from start to finish anyway. It's got ethereal keys, a solid rhythm section, killer guitar runs, and top of it all, Morse's unique vocal harmonies. The last couple of minutes on the song are the best - the part where Morse comes back into the music after a somewhat improvised middle section is simply mesmerizing. I like this song a little better than the other lengthy piece, the 17-minute monster "The Separated Man". This one is relatively slower in pace and it encompasses a nice folky vibe that melts into Gentle Giant-like melodies at the end. The trade-off between crushing electric and soft acoustic guitars marks the highlight of the song.
"Cradle to the Grave" is my favourite ballad on One. Strange as it may seem, Neal Morse's singing is VERY similar to Mike Tramp (ex White Lion) on his last couple of solo albums. Disagree all you want, Morse sings exactly the same way as Mike Tramp with a somewhat rough voice over absolutely beautiful melodies. I think the last three tracks, while still good, aren't quite up to par with the album's first five. I like the bluesy guitar on "Help Me / The Spirit and the Flesh", the nice piano melody on the other ballad "Father of Forgiveness" (though it lacks the punch of "Cradle..." in my opinion) and the happy vibe of "Reunion" which represents the forgiving of the fallen man and his once again being "one" with God, but the musical tapestry on the first couple of songs is more interesting. Overall, One will make a good addition to your prog rock collection. Hell, I'll buy whatever Morse puts out simply because he is one of the very few singers out there who can write such beautiful vocal melodies.
|Morse, Neal: One
Posted by Pete Pardo, SoT Staff Writer on 2005-03-14 20:35:43
Listening to Neal Morse's latest CD One, I'm thinking to myself that, OK, he left Spock's Beard to follow a path that differs greatly from the Beard, at least lyrically and spiritually speaking. However, the music on One is as adventurous and "progressive" as any of the early Spock's Beard albums, certainly there is arguably more to sink your teeth into than the two recent releases from his former band. Featuring all the Morse trademark's, like the soaring harmonies (which are ever present on the uplifting opener "The Creation"), the intricate, keyboard drenched arrangements, gutsy guitar work, catchy melodies, and Gentle Giant-like vocal fugues. One is epic in every aspect, and besides for the stunning performance on multi-instruments by Morse, you also get the virtuoso drum work from Dream Theater's Mike Portnoy, solid bass playing from Randy George, and some guest guitar solos from Phil Keaggy.
Neal Morse continues to be a major force in the progressive rock world, regardless of his religious direction. Check out One for the solid proof of that statement.
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