Sunday, August 10, 2014


The other day, I mentioned a new album from Neil Morse, who left Spock's Beard a decade or so back to pursue his own muse, starting a new genre (Progressive Christian Rock) in the  process (follow the links to my four-part post on Spock's Beard).

The new album, Songs From November, is described as a "singer-songwriter feel-good album," full of strong melodies and powerfully personal stories, but absent the progressive elements you might usually expect.

Here is the lead track.

The album hits stores and digital sites on August 19.

Here's the buzz from the label's site:

Even a style as broad and accepting as Progressive Rock has its boundaries. Prog icon Neal Morse decided to break that mold and create a challenging new album. 'Songs From November' may be his bravest outing to date. Musically, creatively, and production-wise, it’s like nothing he’s ever done. Can you handle it?! It’s an album of “normal” songs! Songs even your friends might like!

Says Neal, “I listen to a lot of different kinds of music for various occasions…prog albums when I really want to focus on intricate music…sometimes jazz and classical. But many times I find myself attracted to 'feel good' singer-songwriter albums like a Jackson Browne or Graham Nash record. So one day I thought to myself…I'd like to make an album like that! 'Songs From November' is that album.”

Morse wrote most of the songs during a flood of ideas in November, 2013. He recalls, “They just kept pouring out that month…I don't really know why…but it was great!” After the epic Transatlantic world tour was completed in March 2014, Morse set out to make 'November' a reality. And he would craft it differently than anything before.

Says Neal, “I could've gotten together with a bunch of studio musicians in Nashville and banged this thing out, but I felt like the thing to do was to get together with this young drummer named Gabe Klein and work on it as a team. He is only 18 years old and amazing! We had a great time recording these songs and many more. We actually recorded twice as many songs as we needed and picked the best ones. It was the first time I've ever done that and it was very fruitful. I sent out 21 songs to a bunch of different people that I trust and chose from their lists. So that was also a totally new approach for me.”

The final 11 songs are among the best that Neal has ever composed – and the most surprising you will hear. In reinventing himself, he was ready to explore uncharted territory. Are you?

Track Listing:
1. Whatever Days
2. Heaven Smiled
3. Flowers In A Vase
4. Love Shot An Arrow
5. Song For The Free
6. Tell Me Annabelle
7. My Time Of Dying
8. When Things Slow Down
9. Daddy's Daughter
10. Wear The Chains

11. The Way Of Love


  1. Sell-out!
    Now he wants a real "hit" song.

    Wait! Check that. I can shorten it...

    Now he wants real "songs".
    (The devil made him do it!)

    He got a flood of song ideas all in one month (November), eh? Ha! Yeah, it's amazing how many songs a musician can dream up when each song doesn't have to be at least 14 minutes long and contain 7 or 8 completely unrelated "movements". Ha!-Ha!

    Ahh, Prog-Rock, I loves it!

    ~ D-FensDogg
    'Loyal American Underground'

    1. Morse's first two solo albums (while still with SB) were also more "song-oriented," not progressive affairs, so this is not so much of a departure as a return to that style, albeit with lyrics that do not veil the Christian message that has always been there in his lyrics..

      At this point, given his age (fifty-ish), his label (Radiant, Morse's own label distributed by Inside-Out, an independent label that is pretty much a roster of progressive or metal artists-not a genre that dominates what's left of radio) and the lack of a mechanism (not much radio left to speak of and music television is all about everything but music) to reach a wider audience, I don't know that "sell-out" is really accurate or achievable.

      Morse is doing what he wants, which is what he's done since the early 90's.

      Not much danger of a hit here-I'd imagine this record will sell to the same audience as his other records.

      Even though you don't like the music, I would think you might give him credit for following his dream.

      He's not a household name, but he appears to make a decent living doing what he loves to do, which is more than most people can say.

      And while the music is not up your alley, the progressive tunes are rich and complex, and the lyrical messages are a little more thoughtful than the typical radio fare.

      I know of at least two people who have creative output that is pretty good that they've left to gather dust rather than do what it takes to get it out there.

      Neal worked his butt off and has made a go of it.

      I call that success.

  2. Not a fan of Prog Rock do I don't know Neal, but THIS I really like.

    1. FAE-

      You might like his "worship" albums as well, as they are more traditional songs.

      You probably will not want to go to that two-day event in Nashville I posted on last week though-there's gonna be some proggin!

  3. I was mostly just joking around. Trying to exercise the sense of humor I once had but has atrophied over the last 3 years of life in Hell, Airheadzona.

    ~ D-FensDogg

    1. I couldn't tell for sure...I know you're not a prog fan, but it seemed like you were really dishing it out on Morse...

  4. I don't usually like Christian Rock. It's usually so hokey and cheesy. You know, the kind of music where every other word is "Jeeeezus," the kind you hear blasting in a bus full of Mormons whose favorite swear word is "oh mittens!" But I actually did enjoy this song. Kudos to him for doing what he loves.

    1. I am right there with you Bryan-if I want to hear church songs, I go to church. There have been a very few number of Christian acts I have liked (Stryper, Third Day, Larry Norman), but overall I have always held suspicion that for most of them it is less about faith and more about a marketing well as an inability to make it in the "normal" business.

      Morse ledt Spock''s Beard just as they were staring to achieve success-his departure set the rest of the band back, killing the momentum they'd had with several albums in succession.

      So his passion is real, which comes across in his songwriting.

      He does have a series of what he calls "worship" albums which are pretty much church music...but he markets them as such.

      A few of his solo efforts are outstanding prog-rock affairs (Momentum and Question Mark), and since his Spock's Beard lyrics were already pretty spiritual, the more apparent Christian lyrics are not so much of a departure.