In 2003 Neal Morse presented Testimony, the first part of his autobiographic sonic journey. As in the past Neal Morse played most instruments himself, but also hooked up friends like Mike Portnoy and Randy George.
Piano slowly leads you into Testimony 2, the opening track is called Mercy Street, a symphonic progressive rock tune. It's the opening track of Part Six which offers 4 tracks. Overture is an instrumental piece with symphonic elements, progressive sounds, retro parts and a jazzy edge. With Time Changer he has record a special treat for fans of his former band Spock's Beard, as here his former band mates joined him. Only Ryo Dejaneiro is missing. A heavy bass riffs dominating the songs, the song about the beginning of Spock's Beard is an almost catchy and shows references to 70's prog rock, art rock and brilliant vocal arrangements / counter part vocals. Jayda is about his daughter who was born with a hole in her heart which disappeared, this miracle turned him to Christianity. Jayda is a kind of singer / songwriter song, but presented with an orchestral arrangement. A very personal and touching tune. Kudos.
Part Seven starts with Nighttime Collectors, a rock riff and Hammond organ is what's sticking out at the opening passage. Quite 70's. Later the song becomes more progressive, a 70's prog rock tune. A bit like Deep Purple meets ELP. The sonic journey continues with Time Has Come Today. Then the atmosphere changes with Jesus' Blood as the situation changes - coming home from tour and going to church, it's like two worlds. Another track which shows his singer / songwriter side, but it becomes a slow, prog rock song. A very intensive tune with a dash of melancholy. Great guitar solo. One of my favorites on Testimony 2!
The Truth Will Set You Free is a prog rock tune, guitar-driven and with a splash of fusion here and symphonic elements there. Later in this 8+ minute long tune he embedded some melodic passages which are almost pop rock like with it's catchy vocal line.
Part Eight begins with Chance Of A Lifetime which is a bit ELP-ish. The first 2+ minutes are instrumental, then Morse starts singing. The tune is spiced up with a saxophone part, again he takes you onto a sonic ride which shows well the emotional roller coaster he was going through at that time of his life. Jesus Bring Me Home is another balladesque tune with a singer / songwriter touch, another personal tune. Road Dog Blues is just over 3 minutes, the shortest track on Testimony 2. A song which stands for the bright spirit he was in after making up his mind and changing his life. A melodic rocker with Hammond organ and an 80's style sax solo. It's For You is another roller coaster ride with heavy, progressive parts and slow, emotional passages. The last track of CD 1 and the closer of the Testimony sonic biography is called Crossing Over / Mercy Street Reprise. With more then 11 minutes it's the longest track on the album and gives a lot of space for twists and turns.
CD2 is like a bonus to the autobiographic songs, Absolute Beginner is a kind of happy tune, less progressive than some other tunes. A song easy to get into due to the hook line and the 'singing' guitar passage. Supernatural offers retro prog elements, singer / songwriter passages and a choir which reminds me of Supertramp... The last track is Seeds Of Gold which begins with a reference to baroque music, this epic tune is just shy of 26 minutes! And so you can expect he offers different sounds, touching different genres incl. prog rock, neo-classical sound, singer / songwriter - you name it. Well, everything in the sound universe of Neal Morse somehow found it's way into this opus. And so it's no easy listening, it's a challenge! But a challenge fans of Neal Morse will be pleased to take.
Some fans will still wait for another album in the vein of his Spock's Beard ones, but Neal Morse expanded his style - which is no news to the ones who listened to his solo albums. You will surely find references to his past, references to Spock's Beard - but that's it.
Give Testimony 2 a chance. Get enchanted by tunes like Jayda, Jesus' Blood and The Truth Will Set You Free.
The album is available as a double CD as well as a special edition 3-disc box incl. a DVD The Making of Testimony Two. Additionally the new book Testimony - The inspirational and spiritual journey of a prog rock musician is ready for you.