Neal Morse – Life And Times album review
Solo Morse in easy listening mood.
You wouldn’t guess from The Neal Morse Band’s most recent output that their leader was mellowing into soft middle age. 2016’s The Similitude Of A Dream and 2015’s The Grand Experiment may have featured his now customary eulogies to the almighty, but they were still multi-faceted prog records. But as anyone who’s seen Morse play solo live over the last few years knows, he can do the straightforward stuff well. This collection of easy-going soft rock numbers might prove too bland to connoisseurs of musical sophistication, but they are well-crafted. Livin’ Lightly and Good Love Is On The Way employ irresistible strokes of Eagles-y peaceful easy feelings, the latter a five-minute romance in which ‘She’s the beauty barista, he’s the corny cashier.’ But while most of these songs are blissed-out tales of the good life, as the slightly saccharine taste starts to cloy, the mood darkens with the tale of a traumatised veteran in He Died At Home. Later, the pedal steel-streaked, violin-laced flavourings of Old Alabama, and some sublime guest vocals from Julie Davidson, show Morse’s songs sound even better dressed in the battered denims of Americana.