Neal Morse, a long time favorite songwriter of mine for close to 9 years has once again done nothing less and released yet another musical masterpiece, Lifeline. This album delivers Neal’s signature writing, tones, voice and thematic passages that grip the soul and please the mind.
The record begins with the title track entering with a beautiful piano intro which crescendos into what sounds like something written for an IMAX movie. The music then leads you into one of Neal’s signature thematic phrasings setting the tone for the track and the record for that matter. From the beginning, you can hear the long time musical chemistry between Neal, bassist Randy George and drummer, Mike Portnoy.
It isn’t long before the band moves into a complicated, bass driven, progressive rock passage that is only a taste of what’s to come on the rest of the record.
The mood of this album can go from one extreme to another. Starting with a majestic opening track moving later to a darker, driving force in the song “Leviathan” which embodies Portnoy’s fast chops and Neal’s talent to structure a complicated minor-keyed intro, with odd instrumentation into a groove-based song telling an amazing story.
It was only a matter of time before Morse was to tug at my heart strings as he’s done so many times in the past. “God’s Love” is an tasteful and emotional song of struggle, hope and inspiration. If this song doesn’t touch your soul, nothing will. I don’t even want to write too much about this piece as to avoid taking away its impact to you, the listener. Nothing I can say will do it true justice.
There is so much that I could write about this album, the length of this review could match that of my sr. thesis in college. “Children of the Chosen” is a song that lends itself to the vocal leads and harmonies which creates a warm-inspiring feeling while giving Portnoy and George a chance to sit back, and play in the pocket. Meanwhile, “So Many Roads” brings so many of Morse’s staples to the table – He will certainly keep you guessing on this one. The lyrics are of course nothing less than superb while the music is layered, groove-oriented, technical and of course progressive. Portnoy does what he does best but also has a fever for that cowbell while George lays an amazing bass solo. True musicians who can do a little of everything (Yes…I used the now cliche “cowbell” joke. My review, my prerogative)!
If you’re in the need of something new, inspiring, different and well produced, this should be your next purchase. Neal Morse is known for his virtuostic approach to song writing, but also his positive outlook. Listen to what he has to say, he’s wise beyond his years and you just may learn something.
A lot of hard work was put into this record, read below.
Written and produced by Neal Morse
Mixed by Rich Mouser
Drums engineered by Jerry Guidroz
Mastered by Ken Love at Mastermix, Nashville, TN
All songs published by Big Hatter Music
Neal Morse: Vocals, Guitars , Keyboards
Mike Portnoy: Drums (except on “Set the Kingdom”)
Randy George: Bass
Paul Bielatowicz: 2nd guitar solo on “Fly High”
Carl Groves: Background vocals on “Lifeline”, “The Way Home”, “Children of the Chosen”, and “Solo Many Roads”
Johnathan Wills: Strings on “The Way Home”, “Eyes of the Savior”, and “Fly High”
Jim Hoke: Saxophone on “Leviathan” and “The Humdrum Life”.
Ivory Leonard and Danielle Spencer: Background vocals on “So Many Roads”