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Progressive Rock CD Reviews

Neal Morse

Songs from November

Review by Gary Hill

I’ve liked Neal Morse’s music from all the way back in the Spock’s Beard days. He’s an amazing musician. Whenever I hear something new from him, I expect it to be progressive rock. Well, other than a few songs, this one isn’t. We’ve included it in the progressive rock section of MSJ because Morse is generally a prog musician. Another thing I expect when I spin a new Neal Morse disc is for it to be great. Well, this didn’t disappoint. There’s not a weak song here. It generally lands in the classic rock, AOR, adult contemporary area, but it’s all good.

This review is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: 2014  Volume 5 at lulu.com/strangesound.

Track by Track Review
Whatever Days

As the horn section leads this in, it’s not what I was expecting. This is less progressive rock and more Steely Dan. It’s also a great catchy number that really rocks. It’s just got such a great groove.

Heaven Smiled
This is more of a soft rocker number. It’s got a great vocal performance and seems packed with emotion. The hooks are classy and the whole tune just works so well. This is one of the best numbers here.
Flowers in a Vase

The slide guitar on this brings a bit of a country edge. At times this makes me think of Crosby Stills and Nash. I’m also reminded of America. Either way, this is classy soft rock that’s so magical.

Love Shot an Arrow
This is a soulful rocker that’s very classic in style. It’s full of emotion, too. I love the piano and strings on the arrangement.
Song for the Free
Here’s a bouncy little tune that’s very classic rock oriented. It’s got a great arrangement and some solid hooks.
Tell Me Annabelle

Now, this one would have felt at home, perhaps with a bit different arrangement, on a Spock’s Beard album. It’s very classic rock oriented, but it’s also quite a proggy tune.

My Time of Dying
This is also quite proggy. I love the violin on it. It’s got a dramatic classic rock sound. This feels in a lot of ways like it could have come out in the 1970s. I can hear hints of Kansas at times, but the balladic side of Kansas.
When Things Slow Down
A classic rock ballad, this is a great tune.
Daddy’s Daughter
Based on a piano arrangement, this is a powered up number that has a real adult contemporary vibe. It’s another that’s packed with emotion.
Wear the Chains
This is another that’s a little proggy. There is a real theatrical vibe to this. Somehow it reminds me of Harry Chapin a bit, too.
The Way of Love
Here’s the most proggy song of the whole disc. It has a complex arrangement, but great hooks. The horn section adds a lot to this. The whole thing is a real rocking powerhouse. This is classic rock, progressive rock and more. It’s a great choice for closer because it’s the best song of the whole album. Given the strength of the rest of the music here, that says a lot.
 
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