Prolific composer and multi-instrumentalist Neal Morse returns with Testimony 2, a continuing story of his spiritual journey to Christian faith first recorded on Testimony (2003). This 2-CD set (with DVD if you get the special edition) is another epic platter of melodic progressive rock from one the masters. Drummer Mike Portnoy (Dream Theater, Transatlantic), bassist Randy George (Ajalon), and Steve Morse (Dixie Dregs, Kansas, Deep Purple, et al) join Neal on the project. He reunites with members of Spock's Beard, most notably in the vocal arrangements of Time Changer. Additionally, Testimony 2 coincides with the release of his his aptly titled biography, Testimony.
Disc one of Testimony 2 traces Morse's journey to faith from the formation of Spock's Beard to his conversion and then eventual departure from the band. The brilliant conceptual piece consists of 13 songs in three sections each over twenty minutes long. The conceptual piece consists of 13 songs in three sections each over twenty minutes long. Along the way listeners, as expected from Neal Morse, are treated to a range of attractive prog rock. There's lighter melodic rock with Neal's wistful keyboards on Mercy Street. He gets grand and bombastic on the instrumental Overture No. 4. The aforementioned Time Changers with Spock's Beard brethren has a rich Yes-like vocal arrangements in a 70's prog composition. Nighttime Collectors is a very strong, and very catcher, rocker. Another prog rocker, Road Dog Blues, tosses in some saxophone from Mark Leninger. Pure sweeping progressive rock defines Crossing Over.
Perhaps the most moving part of disc one, and Testimony 2, as a whole is the sequence of songs between Jayda and The Truth Will Set You Free. This recounts the story of Neal's daughter Jayda who was born with a hole in her heart, subsequently healed, and how it affected him. The tale was first revealed on the DVD TEstimony Live, but gets greater expression here.
To quickly note: disc two is not necessarily part of the 'testimony' sequence, but is reflective of Neal's Christian faith. Absolute Beginner and Supernatural are melodic rockers while, at 26 minutes, Seeds of Gold is massive progressive rock treatise. Leave it to Morse to pull out all the stops. With Testimony 2 you certainly get your money's worth.
In the end, the greater impact of the music and lyric of Testimony 2 is Morse's testimony to the grace and mercy found in Jesus Christ, and the peace and abundance of life found in following him. Testimony 2 is creative and grand, entertaining and inspirational. Strongly recommended.
In the end, the greater impact of the music and lyric of Testimony 2 is Morse's testimony to the grace and mercy found in Jesus Christ, and the peace and abundance of life found in following him. Testimony 2 is creative and grand, entertaining and inspirational.
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