Neal Morse Band, “The Grand Experiment” (2015): One Track Mind

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Adroitly named, the title song from The Grand Experiment finds Neal Morse trying on a new musical persona — both in the sense that the tune largely puts aside his more obvious Beatles and Genesis influences, and in the way he constructed this project.

Hit albums like Testimony were typically launched with an entire song cycle already sketched out in Morse’s mind. This new project, due February 16, 2015 via InsideOut, came from a much more collaborative place, and you hear that right away on this episodic advance track. The crunchy verses feel like a Mike Portnoy construct, while the soaring chorus (clearly written by Neal Morse) opens up into the kind of unabridged optimism more in keeping with Styx.

By letting go, and trusting the instincts of long-time sidemen like Portnoy and Randy George, Morse has completed — live, right there in a studio — one of the most vital songs he’s made in some time.

The Neal Morse Band is rounded out by Eric Gillette and Bill Hubauer. All four appeared on 2012’s Momentum; Portnoy and George were also on 2011’s Testimony 2. Producer Rich Mouser oversaw the original Testimony album, as well.

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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