Band: The Neal Morse Band
CD Title: The Similitude of a Dream
Label: Radiant Records (2016)
Rating: Brilliant 5/5
Not counting his worship related albums this is studio album number 14 in Neal Morse’s solo career, once again coming out under the title The Neal Morse Band. This spectacular two-disc set is Morse’s musical telling the classic book Pilgrims Progress. After a brief acoustic introduction we hear the Overture which lays out the album’s myriad musical themes and then we’re off on the journey. There are a total of twenty-three compositions and the vast majority are shorter than five-minutes, no long epics this time around although given the fact many of these songs are mixed without spaces it still gives the impression of there being long epics here. To my ears splitting everything into individual songs has more to do with the many lyrical ideas and concepts Morse and the band are trying to include in the story. This is after all taking the contents of a book and setting it to music. And speaking of music, here the band stands out admirably yet again creating some of the most amazing anthemic themes. In fact I have to say there are more than a few new musical sounds here. Some have criticized Morse as simply repeating himself musically but that’s not my take on what I hear on this album. From little things like new musical arrangements and different instrumental tones to larger things like using other vocalists in lead parts all make for a refreshing new listen that is both familiar and yet still injecting things I wasn’t expecting. Songs that hinted of band’s like Klaatu or keyboard sounds that reminded me of early Genesis and E.L.P, there was a lot that was new and different on display. It would be easy for me to run out of adjectives so let me just say this album just gets better with each listen. As amply established The Neal Morse Band create symphonic prog of the highest order. Suffice to say if you are a fan of Morse’s music and style like I am, this new album is a no brainer to add to your collection. Fact is when I saw it on the store shelf it took me all of three seconds to grab it and now after repeated listens I can safely say this a BRILLIANT album…5 out of 5…and highly recommended to Progressive Rock fans of all stripes.