Written and Produced by Neal Morse
Thoughts Part 5 —Written by Neal Morse and Randy George
Smoke and Mirrors and The Mystery—Music by Neal Morse, Lyrics by Chris Thompson and Neal Morse
Mixed by Rich Mouser
As US progressive rock goes, no one is more prolific then this guy Neal Morse, after getting this cd, it became apparent to me that I cannot seem to keep up with his releases since his departure from Spock's Beard. I did enjoy a few of his solo cds, and was getting to the point that it was feeling as if he was releasing similar after similar recordings, and getting less and less interested in what was coming next. So here we are with his 10th solo cd, in nearly as many years, and the theme continues, he has continued to record with the core group of drummer - Portnoy, guitarist - Paul Gilbert, bassist - Randy George, and some guest musicians to round things out. Again, this is pretty good music, great writing and performances, the sound is excellent, he still employs his patented Symphonic/Gentle Giant/Hard Prog influences in the music, and for those that have the patience to think their way through his lyrics, and pair them with the music, well, it can be quiet rewarding, as well as inspirational.
It is apparent now, as it has become that Neal is following both of his major influences, progressive rock, and his Christian walk. Those two things are his key elemental inspirations, and fuel the desired effect he is looking for, no one would question the progressivity of this music, as the ingredients are all there. And having this core group of musicians gives Neal the tools to express the more challenging musical ideas he likes to employ in his musical offerings. As much as his previous efforts have impressed, I am sensing even more positive impressions from this most recent offering by Neal.
As for myself, I have no problem with someone using their convictions as a means of lyrical expression, and I find Morse's journey fascinating, I can comprehend his sensitivities, and proclivities to his faith much easier than say, some abstract, fantasy, inspired themes used my so many progressive rock artists. It's different, yet has an inspirational aspect that some may relate to.