109. Testimony – Neal Morse
Much has been said in previous posts about the master songwriter, musician and artist that is Neal Morse. He continues to be one of the best and most prolific progressive rock artists, not only in Christian Music, but the prog rock world at large. He is so accomplished that even prog rock fans embrace his music despite its very blatant evangelical message.
With Testimony, Morse created a prog rock fans dream album. 29 songs clocking in at over two hours with an amazing musical theme running throughout while also maintaining a separate focus and sound of each song. Classical overtures, jazz progressions, superb musicianship and a unbelievably well thought out progression of music and lyrics.There is also a bonus third CD available.
Once again Morse is joined here by former Dream Theater drummer Mike Portnoy and his presence does make the difference between great and phenomenal music. He is, hands down, the finest drummer in the genre and shows it here over and over again. Kerry Livgren also makes a guest appearance on the project along with more than a handful of who’s who in progressive music circles.But it should be noted that the vast majority of instruments are played by Morse himself, with only limited support in the strings and brass sections.
The album, as made obvious by its title, traces Morse’s testimony of conversion to Christianity in five separate sections that each contain a handful of songs. The lyrics deal with his spiritual journey, internal struggles, spiritual warfare and ultimate embrace of Jesus Christ.
More than on other Morse releases, the music here possesses an uncommon blend of pop music into the progressive rock, jazz and classical the genre is most noted for. Songs like “California Night” actually sound like pop music, all while the progressive instrumentation and consistent musical themes the genre is noted for remain. This includes limited breaks between songs and the only real breaks are found between the separate sections mentioned above.
More “hook filled” release (as in comparison to other Morse releases) serves as a great introduction for the uninitiated. Not a bad place to start for those unfamiliar with this master musician.