One Track Mind: Tim Morse with Kansas’ David Ragsdale, “Rome” from Faithscience (2013)

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Using a series of canny fin de siecle images from the crashing fall of Rome, prog keyboardist Tim Morse’s “Rome” — from his second long-player Faithscience — outlines a litany of worries over our stewardship of the Earth.

Morse and Co. create an intriguing narrative structure for the song, even as the skies roil and empires fall, moving from an approachable cadence into a dark and funky Deep Purple-inspired section that echoes this swirling sense of portent — and then back again. All along, the warnings grow more dire, the appeals more ardent, and as Morse mentions the entirely appropriate historical figure Nero (the emperor who memorably played his instrument while the city around him burned), in steps none other than David Ragsdale of Kansas fame for a brilliantly free-form solo on, yes, the fiddle.

Morse, a former collaborator with Jon Anderson of Yes, has created a track that tells a story, rather than repeats a bromide — something as listenable and engaging as it is heartfelt and politicized, a true rarity.

Elsewhere, highlights on Faithscience include the algebraic wonder “Voyager” not to mention the thrilling 10-minute narrative “The Last Wave,” but “Rome” — with its blunt message, musical intrigue and bankable guest star might just be the best place to start for the uninitiated. Faithscience, from AEP records, follows 2005’s Transformation for Morse, whose published works include the books Yesstories and Classic Rock Stories.

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Nick DeRiso

Nick DeRiso

Nick DeRiso has written for USA Today, American Songwriter, All About Jazz, and a host of others. Honored as columnist of the year five times by the Associated Press, Louisiana Press Association and Louisiana Sports Writers Association, he oversaw a daily section named Top 10 in the U.S. by the AP before co-founding Something Else! Nick is now associate editor of Ultimate Classic Rock.
Nick DeRiso
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