Morse, Neal - One

Year of Release: 2004
Label: Radiant Records
Catalog Number: 3984-14519-2
Format: CD
Total Time: 119:09:00

Neal Morse without Spock?s Beard just may become more successful, a stronger songwriter, and an all-round more important contributor to the music world than the band he left behind.

The religious themes to Morse?s music may not appeal to everyone. I happen to be perfectly comfortable with them, but for those who take umbrage at the lyrics: How many times have we all listened to Japanese, Polish and Italian prog without having a clue about the lyrics? I urge you to ignore the words and enjoy the excellent music on One.

To understand the music, play a join-the-dots game: In 2000 and 2001, we had Transatlantic's two CDs. Remember the big, heavy, well textured, sounds? In 2000 we had Spock?s Beard's V followed by 2002?s not-quite-religious Snow. Then in 2003 Neal?s solo release Testimony extended those musical themes, and some critics called it Snow II. Well One is a logical extension of those albums. In fact, I cynically described One to some friends as disc 3 in the Testimony double album. So you?ll hear big sounds, string and brass sections, memorable melodies that will play in the mind for days, shifting time signatures, and strong instrumentation from Neal and (particularly) Randy George, Mike Portnoy and Phil Keaggy. The piece flows well with few dull moments and plenty of variety. One delivers all of these elements on a grand scale - it is a big album with long tracks and huge Soundscapes, and the concept addresses what may be the biggest issue of them all - man?s drift away from God, and - in Neal?s view - his eventual reunion with God.

Compared with Testimony this record is more progressive, a bit heavier, and less overtly religious. Frankly, there were moments toward the end of Testimony that dragged on a bit - whereas One is tighter and keeps your interest throughout. The songs are just as deeply emotional, though, and Morse?s deep sincerity guides the flavor of the entire album. Think of a cross between Testimony and Transatlantic, with a higher standard of musicianship.

One of the high points for me is "Cradle To The Grave," a ballad in which Neal and Phil Keaggy sing a duet - with Neal being a man appealing to his God, and Phil singing God?s part. Singing God?s part occurs elsewhere on the album as well, and while that may sound somewhat presumptuous, I found it to be executed with sensitivity and sincerity and it works remarkably well. Personal favorites are probably the two long tracks "The Creation" and "The Separated Man." Each runs 17-or-so minutes, each is broken into four parts, and both are sweeping epics that cover a wide musical spectrum within the context of tight composition and excellent melody. Closing track "Reunion" starts sounding incredibly Beatles-like, then progresses into an unusual wall of instrumental sound with horns, keyboards, drums, and orchestra. That is followed immediately by several mellow, very emotional sections that brought a lump to my throat.

The Special Edition includes a 40-minute bonus disc with 3 extra songs from the album, an alternative version of "The Cradle To The Grave" with Neal singing all the vocal parts, and 4 cover songs: The Who?s "I?m Free," U2?s "Where The Streets Have No Name," George Harrison's "What Is Life?," and Badfinger's "Day After Day." I?m not a fan of covers, but Neal reports that they had a studio day left and wanted to have a bit of fun, so everyone chose a cover song, arranged it as they liked, and the band played them.

One works on so many levels that it will demand attention from listeners across the music spectrum. Perhaps you won?t find a huge musical development from Neal?s recent CDs. But you will hear an excellent opus with deep meaning, exemplary songwriting, and masterful musicianship.

The Creation: I) One Mind - II) In A Perfect Light - III) Where Are You? - IV) Reaching From The Heart (18:22) / The Man's Gone (2:50) / Author Of Confusion (9:30) / The Separated Man: I) I'm In A Cage - II) I Am The Man - III) The Man's Gone Reprise - IV) Something Within Me Remembers (17:58) / Cradle To The Grave (4:55) / Help Me/The Spirit And The Flesh (11:13) / Father Of Forgiveness (5:46) / Reunion: I) No Separation - II) Grand Finale - III) Make Us One (9:11)

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)

Neal Morse - vocals, keyboards, various other instruments
Mike Portnoy - drums
Randy George - bass

Guest Artists:

Phil Keaggy - guitars
Chris Carmichael - violin, vocals
Gene Miller - vocals
Rick Altizer - vocals
Michael Thurman - French horn
Rachel Righton - violin
Hannah Vanderpool - cello
Dave Jacques - string bass
Jim Hoke - sax
Neil Rosengarden - trumpet
Bill Huber - trombone
Glenn Caruba - percussion
Aaron Marshall - vocals
Missy Halle - vocals

Spock's Beard - The Light (1991)
Spock's Beard - Beware of Darkness (1995)
Spock's Beard - The Beard Is Out There Live (1995) (cd/vid)
Spock's Beard - Official Live Bootleg (1996)
Spock's Beard - The Kindness of Strangers (1997)
Spock's Beard - From The Vault - 1995-1998 (1998)
Spock's Beard - Day For Night (1999)
Spock's Beard - Live At The Whiskey and NEARfest (1999)
Neal Morse (1999)
Spock's Beard - Don't Try This At Home (2000)
Merry Christmas From The Morse Family (2000)
Neal Morse and Nick D'Virgilio - Two Separate Gorillas - Live In Europe (2000)
Spock's Beard - V (2000)
Transatlantic - SMPTe (2000)
It's Not Too Late (2001)
Transatlantic - Live In America (2001)
Transatlantic - Bridge Across Forever (2001)
Transatlantic - Bridge Across Forever - Special Edition (2001)
Spock's Beard - Snow (2002)
Testimony (2003)
One (2004)
Lead Me Lord (Worship Sessions Volume One) (2005)
? (2005)
Morse Portnoy George - Cover To Cover (2006)
Sola Scriptura (2007)
?: Live (2007)
Lifeline (2008)
Testimony Two (2011)
Testimony 2: Live In Los Angeles (CD/DVD) (2011)
Cover 2 Cover (2012)
Momentum (2012)
Neal Morse Band - The Grand Experiment (2015)
Neal Morse Band - Alive Again Tour 2015 (2016)
Neal Morse Band - The Similitude Of A Dream (2016)
Neal Morse Band - Morsefest 2015 (CD/DVD) (2017)
Life & Times (2018)

Transatlantic - Live In America (VID) (2001)
Testimony Live (DVD) (2004)
Sola Scriptura And Beyond (DVD) (2008)
Neal Morse Band - Morsefest 2015 (BR) (2017)

Genre: Progressive Rock

Origin US

Added: November 23rd 2004
Reviewer: Duncan N Glenday
Artist website:
Hits: 1263
Language: english


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