NEAL MORSE — One (review)

NEAL MORSE — One album cover Album · 2004 · Metal Related Buy this album from MMA partners
5/5 ·
adg211288
One (2004) is the second of US musician Neal Morse's progressive rock solo releases following Testimony (2003) and his fourth solo studio album overall. Like with most of Morse's work after his exit from Spock's Beard the album is a Christian themed concept release, I believe being a musical telling of the Bible itself. Morse is joined by a host of guest performers, including a Phil Keaggy who shares lead vocal on Cradle to the Grave, along with a core band of Randy George on bass and Mike Portnoy on drums, who both co-wrote the album with him. The album has been released as both a standard edition single CD and a double CD with extra tracks and cover songs.

The near eighty minute long album sees Neal Morse and company doing what after several releases down the line from One could be said to be them doing what they do best. Symphonic progressive rock music with a host of influences creeping in, perhaps most notably some metal on the track Author of Confusion. This is certainly a highlight of the release, featuring several minutes of some of the heaviest material Neal Morse has ever put out before switching up to some epic symphonic prog and then again to a capella section with counterpoint vocals (previous heard in Spock's Beard with tracks like Thoughts Part 2) and eventually comes round to the metal bit again. A few stabs of metal can also be heard in the albums two main multi-part epics The Creation and The Separated Man, both of which are also highlights of the release. If there's one artist you can rely on to write an epic it's Neal Morse. Whether it's solo, Spock's Beard or Transatlantic, he's on the money every time.

In addition to the progressive rock primary sound of One there are also a couple of instances where Neal descends into more basic balladry and while this isn't as epic as his prog these tracks do serve their purpose in balancing the release, which flows really well through all the different moods and intricacies. The Man's Gone, the second track and a short offering, proves a perfect claim before the storm before Author of Confusion thunders out of your speakers. Despite the long total running time it's really not hard to get through this one (see what I did there?) in a single sitting and there's no temptation to skip the balladry. Morse has wrote some cheesy ballads in his time, but the ones here are among his better ones.

One is certainly one of Neal Morse's best releases. I personally can't believe that it took me so long to secure myself a copy of it. For a long time the only Morse solo album I owned was the equally excellent Sola Scriptura (2007). But having found myself in a prog rock mood of late (especially a symph prog mood) I finally grabbed a copy and have been spinning it a lot the last couple of days. I am also looking forward to receiving a copy of ? (2005) and The Grand Experiment (2015), the first album of his The Neal Morse Band venture.
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666sharon666 wrote:
35 days ago
I really must check out more of Neal Morse's prog work. I've only heard One, ? and Sola Scriptura in full.
adg211288 wrote:
35 days ago
I think the final straw on stopping promo reviews for me was when one of the labels I actually did contact myself, stopped allowing reviewers to even download their releases for review. Just streaming from Haulix only. Sorry Napalm, but no download, no review. It doesn't get any simpler than that for me. The ironic thing is Napalm are one of the new labels that by this point hasn't stopped sending me releases. To be honest I got the impression that even when I was reviewing regularly that I got struck off some labels lists when I gave them a review they didn't like...
adg211288 wrote:
35 days ago
It stopped being fun for me when labels and promoters (many of whom must have had my details given to them by other people, because I only contacted a select few labels myself) started to bug me for reviews of albums that I had no desire to listen to much less write about.
UMUR wrote:
35 days ago
I only listen to and review exactly the albums I want to these days. I´ve stopped doing promo reviews some years back, because it stressed me out and I lost my Desire to write and it just wasn´t fun anymore.
adg211288 wrote:
35 days ago
And about reviews, I got really burned out on the whole promos thing and trying to keep up with new releases. I found I wasn't getting time to really appreciate any music long term, especially my own collection and that's put me off writing them regularly again left I fall into the same rut. And then I got a lot more into movies after realising how many classic films I'd never seen. Recently I've been enjoying discovering my collection again and have bought a lot more albums lately than I have done for ages.
adg211288 wrote:
35 days ago
I've no interest in Morse's non-prog albums but those are usually pretty good work. I didn't like Lifeline when it came out but I mean to try it again. A good entry one from the metal point of view is Sola Scriptura, although I think what he does on Author of Confusion here is probably heavier overall. I've heard some of his recent ones also have some metallic material on them but I've not heard those yet. I'm really into his prog work lately though again as well as Spock's Beard. I'm currently waiting for a number of CDs from both acts to arrive. Some of the Spock's Beard ones are with Ted Leonard though. I haven't as yet bought any D 'Virgilio fronted albums.
35 days ago
Phil Keaggy! I should still have a CD of his somewhere. I got rid of most of my Christian CDs years ago but I kept a few that I really loved for the music. Phil's album had some killer rock tunes. He reminded me of Paul McCartney with more coming from the gut.
UMUR wrote:
35 days ago
It´s not often you post reviews anymore Adam, but when you do they are always very well written, and I´m intrigued to hear this album. I used to be quite a big fan of Spock´s Beard while Morse was fronting the band, and I own every release (including the live albums) from that era, but I´ve only yet listened to the first couple of Christian music solo albums from him, and they did absolutely nothing for me. But I know some of his later solo albums are much more progressive, so maybe someday I´ll give them a try.

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