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Neal Morse: Sola Gratia
Neal Morse - Sola Gratia Album Art

Neal Morse: Sola Gratia

Melodic Progressive Rock

Multi-instrumentalist, prolific composer, and pastor Neal Morse returns with a new solo album, Sola Gratia (latin: grace alone). Much like Sola Scriptura, a concept album about the life of Protestant reformer Martin Luther, Sola Gratia is based upon the life of the Apostle Paul, from his aggressive persecution of Christians and the early church to his conversion to Christ on the road to Damascus. Morse is assisted on the project by long time friends and musical cohorts, drummer Mike Portnoy and bass player Randy George.

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Neal Morse

Musically, Sola Gratia is simply signature Neal Morse, offering delightfully intricate and creative melodic progressive rock. Most arrangements revolve around him weaving together his keyboard and guitar lines, both acoustic and electric, with the bass and drums adding rhythm and groove. Often those key and guitar lines come in tandem, or dueling solos, as within Overture or Seemingly Sincere. Song melody and harmony are always at a premium, as well as vocal harmony. After all, Morse is a huge Beatles fan.

There's also some variety to the songs, some contrasts as well. For instance, In The Name Of The Lord and Building The Wall offer more assertive, perhaps heavier rock, particularly the latter. Within Building The Wall, strong riffs are heard, assertive vocals, tough bass, and thumping drums as the Pharisees make their attack on the Christian faith. Alternatively, Warmer Than The Sunshine turns upon a light and lilting piano line over synths before rising with an ambitious Portnoy drum flurry.

When you get to the conversion of Paul, Morse lifts the spiritual event by elevating the musical drama over the trio of songs, The Light On The Road To Damascus, The Glory Of The Lord, and Now I Can See/The Great Commission. This is notable from the strong symphonic element, choral vocal arrangements, and breathtaking guitar solos. Wherein the first three-quarters the album the music seems to heighten the emphasis on Paul's persecution, the end magnifies the glory of God's graceful intervention through his son Jesus Christ to redeem Paul and send him on his mission to spread the Gospel. But that's a story for another album, and Morse has suggested that possibility. All in all, Neal Morse's Sola Gratia is another compelling and entertaining album of his signature melodic progressive rock. Easily recommended. - New fiction, crime fiction by Craig Hartranft

The Bottom Line

All in all, Neal Morse's Sola Gratia is another compelling and entertaining album of his signature melodic progressive rock. Easily recommended.

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