"One" (Metal Blade/Radiant; 2004)

Reviewed by Christopher J. Kelter

One of my first review responsibilities for Rough Edge was the “Day For Night” CD by Spock’s Beard. One of the primary leaders of Spock’s Beard was Neal Morse. A few years back Neal Morse left Spock’s Beard to more closely follow his heart as a solo artist.

“One” is Morse’s fourth solo CD and his second effort as a solo artist post-departure from Spock’s Beard. “One” is filled with progressive rock’s sweeping ambition, carefully crafted songs, and epic songwriting. That means it’s not too different than Spock’s Beard, but Morse’s solo work seems to have a bit more of the "sole songwriter" vibe to it despite contributions from Randy George on bass (unknown to me up until this point) and the exquisite drumming abilities of Dream Theater’s Mike Portnoy.

“One” clocks in at 79 minutes and 55 seconds which means it is five seconds shy of filling up the entire CD. But it’s still about 80 minutes shorter than his previous effort “Testimony.” Why do I mention all this? The heart and the mind of a progressive rocker is typically not satiated until an idea is complete. And in this modern, CD world the fulfillment of an idea that takes 80 minutes is now fully possible. Thank God Neal Morse can pull it off.

“One” is a lot to absorb, but if you like a good prog rock album that manages to be expressive, challenging, and not the least bit afraid of being a tad self-indulgent on occasion then this is the latest and greatest prog-rock CD for you. “One” expertly pulls from many genres of which many are familiar to progressive rock fans and some aren’t quite well known. Regardless, the disc has a gentle ebb and flow which guides the listener rather than pushes and drags ‘em around.

What’s interesting about the sequence of albums that I’ve recently chosen to review for Rough Edge is that I’d pretty much gone through a serious run of old-school black metal. “One” is the counterpoint to all of the anti-Christian sentiment I’ve been exposed to lately. Morse, unrepentantly, acknowledges the presence of Jesus Christ in his life. Morse’s dedication is readily evident here and it makes for compelling subject matter.

“One” was produced by Neal Morse. The overall sound and presentation of “One” is clear, but most importantly it is as sonically compelling as the story Morse is trying to convey.

Neal Morse handles all the vocals, guitar, and keyboards, and is joined by Randy George on bass and Mike Portnoy (Dream Theater) on drums. Guitarist Phil Keaggy makes a few guest spots and a host of symphony musicians add to the proceedings as well.

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Rating Guide:

A classic. This record will kick your ass.

Killer. Not a classic but it will rock your world.

So-so. You've heard better.

Pretty bad. Might make a nice coaster.

Self explanatory. Just the sight of the cover makes you wanna hurl.

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Copyright © 2005 by R. Scott Bolton. All rights reserved.
Revised: 06 Jul 2018 02:07:09 -0400.