Number 18 on my countdown of Top 40 Albums is Momentum by Neal Morse. I have been a huge Neal Morse fan since high school when my girlfriend (now wife) burned me a Neal Morse CD her Dad loved (which I will not name at this time because it will pop up later in the countdown. SPOILER!). I began acquiring Neal’s music as fast as a high school student with no money is able to. Momentum was the first Neal Morse album I purchased when it was Neal’s latest release. I was immediately taken, especially by the first five tracks which I suppose one could consider the “A-side” of the CD. It was something special. I remember telling my Dad, “If this album came out 35 years ago when prog rock was really popular, Neal Morse would be a household name.” The more I listen to this album, the more I believe that statement to be true. I believe this release to be Neal’s most accessible solo album for any listener, not just the prog rock fan. It is well within the “music for everyone” category I have mentioned in prior blog posts. However, even with a more straightforward rock release, it does NOT lack the depth, subtlety, and virtuosity of any other Neal Morse release. Simply put, this album is something special.
If you have never heard any of Neal Morse’s music before, the beauty of it is that he pretty much does whatever the heck he wants, whether that be a folk rock album, an 80 minute prog epic, or anything in between pulling influence from prog, blues, traditional Irish music, funk, metal, and-like most artists worth listening to-The Beatles. With that in mind, the couple of tracks I chose to include in this post may not be the most telling of the “Neal Morse genre,” but they showcase the success of Momentum. They are accessible without being boring. They push the pop song format about as far as it will go as each verse, chorus, and bridge adds more and more depth. These are great songs supported by the phenomenal musicianship of Morse, bassist Randy George, and esteemed drummer Mike Portnoy among others. Without me dragging on about it too much longer, here are tracks three and five from Neal Morse’s Momentum:
Among the ranks of Momentum along with these songs is an intense Gentle Giant influenced prog song that captures the intensity of an intellectual conversation between a Christian and a non-believer, a haunting prayer-like song called “Smoke and Mirrors,” a 34 minute epic track which (keeping in suit with the rest of the album) is probably the most accessible epic track Neal has ever written as it drifts from one wildly catchy rock ‘n’ roll thought to the next, and finally the title track – a riveting rock song with one of my favorite guitar solos of all time from guest guitarist Paul Gilbert which can be found at this blog post I wrote last year:
As a musician, I am often asked by my friends what music I listen to and who are my favorite artists. I tell people with confidence that my top two artists are The Beatles and Neal Morse. If you haven’t listened to his music before, I promise you it really is THAT good. And there is certainly more Neal Morse to come as the countdown continues.
Well, that does it for number 18 on the countdown: Momentum by Neal Morse. If you are interested in the other albums included so far, you can find them at these links!
25. Queen by Queen
I am hoping to write the post for number 17 tomorrow, which will catch me up to finish this countdown by the new year! Thanks for reading and be sure to check in (hopefully) tomorrow for number 17!