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Slow down as you approach the gate, and have your change ready....
Artist: Neal Morse
Label: Radiant Records
Length: 14 Tracks/51.19 Minutes
Once upon another timeThe arrival of a new Neal Morse project is always a reason for music lovers to rejoice, and Morse’s latest solo release Lifeline is no exception. Morse’s output is prolific—Lifeline is his 17th(!) solo CD since 1999 (his fifth solo progressive rock project). Morse is a giant in modern progressive rock circles, creating some of the most fresh and memorable group (with his former band mates Spock’s Beard) and solo projects to bless happy ears across the globe.
Lifeline features all of the ingredients that make up a great Neal Morse project: sweeping epics, encouraging ballads, humor, special guests, keyboards galore, and unique guitar solos/textures/tones. Mr. Morse borrows from the classic prog-rock lexicon, modernizes it, and turns it on its ear with dynamic musical and vocal passages—the title cut is a great example.
Morse turns in solid vocals, keys and guitar performances on Lifeline (he composed the whole project, with the exception of the covers on the Special Edition). As with the previous four Morse prog releases, the inimitable Mike Portnoy lends his prodigious rapid-fire drumming skills and Randy George handles low end bass chores admirably. Portnoy and George both contribute breath-taking turns in their respective areas that broaden Morse’s already significant aural palate.
Unlike the previous four progressive rock releases Lifeline is not a concept album. Lyrically, Lifeline features a encouraging/testimonial feel that stands apart from the usually nebulous feel of progressive rock lyrical themes. The ballad’s themes are apparent from the titles: “God’s Love,” “Children of the,” and “Fly High.” The questions in “God’s Love” are the plaintive cry of the believer who asks why things happen they way they do:
Try as you might, you can’t understand it allThe ballads are solid, but the meat of a Morse prog release is the epic songs. And _Lifeline_ is brimming with excellent epics: the classy title cut, the nearly 30 minute adventures of “So Many Roads,” and “Set the Kingdom” on the Special Edition. Of special note is the Scriptural mini-epic “Leviathan”…a maniacal rush of fun that features all the verses about the sea monster that Morse could find while searching the Bible.
Please note there is a standard single disc release of _Lifeline_ and a 2 CD Special Edition. The Special Edition is HIGHLY recommended and features some surprising and essential covers. Guitar ace Paul Gilbert joins Morse and crew for a caffeinated, metallic version of the Osmonds(!) “Crazy Horses.” The Bee Gees psychedelic/Beatle-esque side is covered with “Lemons Never Forget.” Try downloading the original, early Bee Gees version on iTunes to fully appreciate Morse’s take on this pop-rock rarity. Rounding out the Special Edition is Morse’s strong vocal take on Joe Cocker’s version of “The Letter,” an Elvis Costello cover, and two more Morse originals.
The dramatic cover illustration features a lifesaving rope breaking through a foreboding sky descending towards a struggling swimmer. Morse’s _Lifeline_ fleshes out the message of that picture in many creative ways. Grab onto the Lifeline!
Download free single versions of “Lifeline” and “Children of the Chosen” at http://www.nealmorse.com
Read an in-depth interview from Neal regarding his theological beliefs, his Sola Scriptura project, and trips to Europe: http://www.christianitytoday.com/music/interviews/2007/nealmorse-0407.html
Barry Nothstine hosts Soul Frequency Radio
( http://www.soulfrequency.com), a weekly freeform FM radio show showcasing
progressive rock, instrumental rock, power-pop, psychedelic rock, rock
classics, blues, and more—great rock for the ages!