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Neal Morse’s “Joseph: Part One”: An Epic Journey Through Faith and Prog (Album Review)

Neal Morse album ‘The Dreamer Joseph Part One

Album review by Jorge Pozo

Neal Morse, the boundary-defying artist, embarks on yet another colossal venture in the realm of Prog and spirituality. “Joseph: Part One,” a testament to his prolific creativity, unfurls as a remarkable Gospel-inspired rock opera, blending a timeless biblical tale with the intricate harmonies of progressive rock.

Morse, never one to shy away from musical exploration, has consistently woven together his faith and musicality. With releases like “Similitude Of A Dream” and “The Great Adventure,” he’s already established his prowess at merging his religious inclinations with Prog. Now, fresh from the triumph of “Jesus Christ the Exorcist Rock Opera,” Morse’s latest opus masterfully retells the classic story of Joseph through the immersive lens of progressive rock.

Released on August 11, 2023, under Frontiers Music s.r.l, “Joseph: Part One” beckons listeners into a sonic landscape that intertwines narratives with an ensemble cast of musicians. The album features a range of vocalists, including Ted Leonard, Matt Smith, and Jake Livgren, who artfully portray the roles of Joseph’s brothers. Morse himself steps into the shoes of Joseph, effortlessly weaving in and out of the narrative with his emotive vocals.

The album opens with the magnificent “The Dreamer Overture,” a musical marvel that transports listeners through an array of themes, orchestrations, and emotions. Morse’s signature overture captivates, much like a grand theatrical introduction, setting the stage for the epic tale to follow.

“Prologue-Before the World” carries Morse’s warm vocals, building into an anthemic embrace with Steve Morse’s soaring guitar solo that tugs at the heartstrings. “A Million Miles Away” delivers a spicy and funky acoustic rock vibe, cementing its place as a foot-tapping standout.

As the storyline deepens with “Burns Like A Wheel,” the assembly of characters takes center stage, voiced by a superb ensemble. The music begins to venture into theatricality, at times reminiscent of a Broadway production, yet maintaining a distinctive Morse charm.

The album’s musical diversity shines in tracks like “Gold Dust City,” a rock powerhouse propelled by Jake Livgren’s standout vocal performance, and “Slave Boy,” a sultry, wah-wah-infused rocker carried with finesse by Talon David.

Morse’s exceptional composition prowess is evident in the pacing of songs like “Wait On You,” where the tension escalates into an exquisite guitar solo by Eric Gillette, creating a resonating emotional crescendo. The unexpected choral arrangement in “I Will Wait On The Lord,” performed by the Vanderbilt Blair Children’s Chorus Chorale, adds a refreshing dimension to the album’s texture.

“Ultraviolet Dreams,” a bluesy gem showcasing Morse’s solo artistry, stands out as a late triumph, while “Heaven In Charge of Hell” treats listeners to delightful riffs and fiery guitar solos, underscoring Morse’s enduring virtuosity.

The album culminates with “Why Have You Forsaken Me?” leaving a poignant pause before the eagerly anticipated Part Two, set to grace our ears in 2024.

“Joseph pt 1” may not be without its complexities, teetering between the realms of rock opera and studio concept album. However, it’s precisely this fusion that sets it apart and contributes to its allure. Morse’s musical genius and devotion create a melodic journey that’s sure to captivate both the faithful and the uninitiated. Each listen peels back another layer of its brilliance, revealing the depth of its composition and the resonance of its themes. This release, while not flawless, solidifies Morse’s position as a luminary of progressive rock and faith-infused storytelling.

In this chapter of his musical odyssey, Neal Morse’s “Joseph: Part One” resonates as a testament to unwavering creativity and a poignant narrative—a symphonic proclamation that’s both an homage to spiritual narratives and an opus that cements his legacy in the annals of progressive rock.

As the curtain draws on “Joseph: Part One” leaving us in a cliffhanger of emotional intensity, the anticipation for the forthcoming Part Two is palpable. Neal Morse, the masterful storyteller, has set the stage for an extraordinary continuation of Joseph’s saga, a sonic voyage that promises to be as enthralling as its precursor.

So, as we await the unfolding of Part Two, let us immerse ourselves in the melodies and narratives of “Joseph pt 1.” Neal Morse’s journey of faith and Prog continues to captivate, inspire, and push the boundaries of musical storytelling.

Rating: 8.5/10

Neal Morse album ‘The Dreamer, Joseph- Part One’

Here’s the track listing for THE DREAMER – JOSEPH: PART ONE:
 
1.      Overture
2.      Prologue/Before the World Was
3.      A Million Miles Away
4.      Burns Like a Wheel
5.      Liar, Liar
6.      The Pit
7.      Like a Wall
8.      Gold Dust City
9.      Slave Boy
10.   Out of Sight, Out of Mind
11.   Wait On You
12.   I Will Wait on the Lord
13.   Overture Reprise
14.   Ultraviolet Dreams
15.   Heaven in Charge of Hell (Eat ‘Em and Smile)
16.   Why Have You Forsaken Me?
 
Lineup:
Eric Gillette
Gabe Klein
Neal Morse
Sam Hunter
Gideon Klein
Steve Morse
Andre Madatian
Mark Leniger
Jim Hoke
 
Cast:
Joseph – Neal Morse
Judah – Ted Leonard
Reuben – Matt Smith
Potiphar’s Wife – Talon David
Slave Driver – Jake Livgren
Simeon – Wil Morse
Jacob – Mark Pogue
Warden and Prison Guards – Matt Smith, Mark Pogue, Wil Morse, Gabe Klein, Chris Riley

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