Like many other artists during the COVID-19 pandemic, multi-instrumentalist/vocalist/songwriter Neal Morse took advantage of the extra time at home to create his latest progressive rock opus Sola Gratia. Recorded remotely with many of his Neal Morse Band mates taking part, Morse has put together another highly enjoyable excursion into spiritual prog, Mike Portnoy and Randy George helping out with drums & bass, Eric Gillette and Bill Hubauer also contributing some guitar and keyboards, but it's the leader who handles the bulk of the workload here, tackling all the lead vocals, the majority of the guitars and keyboards, and of course writing and arranging the songs. For longtime listeners, not many surprises to be found, as it DOES sound like a Neal Morse album after all, but for the most part that's a good thing, as Sola Gratia is littered with his trademark catchy vocal harmonies, a never ending supply of complex & symphonic musical passages, and an overall sense of bombast that is decidedly Neal Morse.
Kicking off with the obligatory "Preface" and "Overture", the stage is set for what is to follow, with soaring keyboards and big guitars complementing dramatic vocals on "In the Name of the Lord", the hard rocking "Building a Wall", the prog/fusion interlude "Sola Intermezzo", the gorgeous "Overflow", and the emotional "Never Change", complete with a stunning guitar solo from Morse. "Seemingly Sincere" is a full-on prog gem, driven by Portnoy's acrobatic drumming and plenty of dizzying synth explorations, and Gillette throws down a dazzling shred guitar solo on "The Glory of the Lord".
Overt Christian themes aside, if you love this style of modern day progressive rock, Neal Morse has delivered another solid entry into his ever growing discography here with Sola Gratia. Whether you subscribe to the concepts that Morse leans towards or not, it's not hard to buy into the uplifting, positive messages contained within this album, in a time where the world definitely could use a little joy and good cheer to spread around.
3. In The Name Of The Lord
4. Ballyhoo (The Chosen Ones)
5. March Of The Pharisees
6. Building A Wall
7. Sola Intermezzo
9. Warmer Than The Sunshine
10. Never Change
11. Seemingly Sincere
12. The Light On The Road To Damascus
13. The Glory Of The Lord
14. Now I Can See/The Great Commission