NEAL MORSE: The Dreamer – Joseph Part One

Mr. Morse is a prolific songwriter that’s proven over time to be quite a gift to rock and roll audiences. I can’t imagine the time it would take to write a rock opera / concept album and weave all of its stories into one cohesive novella, but this brilliant composer has done it numerous times. First there was Snow, his Spock’s Beard coda and concept album. Then Testimony, a double-disc about his own life. He hasn’t slowed down for a long time. In 2004 he released One, about the prodigal son … Sola Scriptura in 2007, Sola Gratia in 2020, and most recently Jesus Christ the Exorcist.

Fans who have been following him will delight in the prog-iness that immediately starts off this 16-song masterpiece. From synthesizers, organs to those noodling guitars, it’s a jamfest. The wah-flanged guitar in Slave Boy is juicy, bluesy, and thick, which accompanies Talon David’s sultry vocals. The longing guitar solo in “Wait On You” sounds so melodic and clean. As a Heaven’s Metal person, it’s so fun to listen for and hear Matt Smith (Theocracy)’s vocals, which vocalize the characters of Reuben, Joseph’s older brother, and the warden/guard of the prison. “Ultraviolet Dreams” features a nice bed of low organ sounds that a higher lead guitar plays off of. It’s a great bluesy / Floyd-esque moment that conjures a great sonic landscape and hypnotic feeling.

While a rock opera for sure, Morse dips his composition pen into the ink of classical and choral opera. Case in point is the chant-like “I Will Wait On The Lord,” which sounds like a choir of dozens.

As the title reveals, this is the biblical story of Joseph. The lyrics give incarnation to the story in relatable terms – from the twisted plans of his brothers to “throw him in the pit” to the Bryan Adams-esque balladry of Joseph’s own lamentations as a slave in Like A Wall: “it’s like a wall placed in my life / like a wall I can’t get over.”

The vocals, sonics, and lyrics all combine to really bring the characters to life. It’s easy to feel sorry for Joseph or to hate Potiphar’s wife. The album’s closer, “Why Have You Forsaken Me?” carries with it tangible feelings of abandonment. It acts as a heckuva climax for Part One and leaves us wanting more.

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1 thought on “NEAL MORSE: The Dreamer – Joseph Part One

  1. Thanks for the review,Doug–very cool! Really looking forward to this new release–like all of Neal’s output. I have it on pre-order– you’ve just whetted my appetite a bit more…thanks again! Regards, T

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