Sunday, June 23, 2024

Neal Morse – The Dreamer, Joseph, pt 1

If you’re familiar with the name Neal Morse, you’ll know his spirituality and devotion to Christianity is the motivational force in his life. In 2019 he put his beliefs to music, releasing Jesus Christ, the Exorcist, a rock opera based on the gospels in the bible and inspired by the play ‘Jesus Christ Superstar.’  This has now been followed by The Dreamer, Joseph, pt1, the story of Joseph, whose talent was in the interpretation of dreams, with pt1 ending with his being cast into the pit and asking God why he’s being forsaken? (pt2 follows on in 2024).

As with all such albums he’s made, Neal Morse has surrounded himself with some stellar musical talent, including Steve Morse (no relation) and Eric Gillette (guitar) and Ted Leonard (Spock’s Beard) and Jake Livgren (Kansas) on vocals, amongst several others. It’s an album with pretty much everything you’d expect from any project Neal Morse’s involved with .. songs with occasional odd time signatures and melodic, song-oriented tracks. On this album, they’re none of the lengthy prog epics the Neal Morse Band is known for, with the longest track here being only seven minutes, and each track flowing into the next one seamlessly.

Joseph begins with ‘The Dreamer Overture,’ a prog instrumental with some amazing playing on bass and drums. From here on in the story of Joseph now unfolds. ‘In A Million Miles Away,’ Joseph “sees God in a dream a million miles away.”  In ‘Liar Liar,’ Joseph is called out for telling lies ..“you’re full of lies and you’ve got no friends.” No one believes Joseph. In ‘Like A Wall,’ he wails it’s “like a wall placed in front of my life and I can’t get over it..” in ‘Out Of Sight, Out Of Mind,’ Joseph is now thrown into the pit. But he retains his faith and in the hymn-like ‘I Will Wait For The Lord’ he outlines his beliefs. In the pit, he has ‘Ultraviolet Dreams’ “which fill the air.” The album ends with the melancholic ‘Why Have You Forsaken Me?’ ..“you let my brothers go free, are you saving the worst for me?

Joseph’s story is told using melodic prog rock, with some heavy rock blasts and the occasional symphonic choir, all played with power and expertise. Neal Morse is an amazing artist, and certainly one of the best at making the dreaded ‘concept’ album come alive. It’s difficult to think of any other musician who could have taken the story of Joseph, make a rock opera from it and do so convincingly. Morse’s religiosity turns some fans off, but this is an album which can be listened to without subscribing to his personal beliefs.

Laurence Todd
Laurence Todd
Took early retirement after many years as a teacher in order to write books as well as about music. A long-time music obsessive, has wide and eclectic tastes but particularly likes prog rock and rock in general. Enjoys going to gigs and discovering new acts.

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If you’re familiar with the name Neal Morse, you’ll know his spirituality and devotion to Christianity is the motivational force in his life. In 2019 he put his beliefs to music, releasing Jesus Christ, the Exorcist, a rock opera based on the gospels in...Neal Morse - The Dreamer, Joseph, pt 1