THE NEAL MORSE BAND do not like to rest and they are here once more to prove it, publishing their brand new album “The Similitude of a dream” only one year after their previous one “The Grand Experiment”. Many changes have been made and already by looking inside the album anyone can tell the difference in the number of songs included. Twenty-three songs, twelve on side A and eleven on side B. Why have they included so many songs, is a question no-one but them can answer, but as a listener, it was pretty intense, long and sometimes quite repetitive with the songs having an average duration of four minutes. However, some ballads such as “We have got to go”, “Breath of Angels”, “Shortcut to salvation” and “Sloth more” mix up things a little bit giving the audience time to breathe and travel across those songs’ peaceful melodies.
More extensively someone could say that the album is being intelligibly divided in two parts. The first part including songs one through twelve is more progressive, sounds a lot like dream theatre music with various keyboard solos and peculiar rhythm changes while the rest of the album is more “happy”, bluesy and gospel like style showing maybe the Christian side of Neal Morse without of course the slight progressive phrases in the keyboards and the drums missing. The keyboards distortion sounds exactly like dream theatre and may confuse the listener when it comes to the character of the songs. After all lets not forget that Neal Morse worked with Jordan Rudess on his album “The road home”. Overall “The Similitude of a dream” can easily be considered as one of the best instrumentally composed and rich progressive albums of the last years.
The following targeted and specific track analysis is trying to deepen into the most important parts of this album and form a general picture of the character of THE NEAL MORSE BAND.
“Long day” is the first song of the album and probably one of the best intros ever. It is the reason why everyone must listen to the album. Despite the one minute and forty-two seconds duration, do not be mistaken and skip this song because it’s more than a welcoming, it’s the gate to the THE NEAL MORSE BAND world. Genius composing, strings that will get you off your feet and a melody that will make you cry from brilliance. It is the song that along with “So far gone” are the main core of “The Similitude of a dream” with no doubt. No-one will be surprised when “Long Day” opens a THE NEAL MORSE BAND live performance, along with a symphonic orchestra.
“One of the best instrumentally composed and rich progressive albums of the last years.”
Two songs before the end comes “The Ways of a Fool”, where the listener faces a completely different side of the band. No more climbing scales on the keyboards, no more weird distortions and no heavy progressive building. Simple jazzy staccato played piano that reminds a lot of some 90’s Queen songs.
Right after follows the featured song of the album, “So far gone”. Really catchy refrain that sticks in your mind and a rhythm that makes you wanna dance. A perfect blend of genres with various “blues” characteristics and at the same time Neal Morse’s progressive stamp, including a perfect solo that doesn’t wears at all and makes the song distinguish. Although Neal Morse is not at the main vocals, the polyphonies really kick in and form an outstanding outcome.
Continuing on the second side and the sixth song of it, is “Freedom song”, a country music inspired where nobody can ignore the banjo like sound and the rhythm that reminds a lot the traditional country dances. Probably this song was included to take the audience in a different path and give a variance in the album’s progressive character.
And then, when everyone feels that the experience is over along comes “The mask”. A piano masterpiece. Excellent structure, impeccable piano skills and a really melodic tone that is so perfect for the rainy days. Four minutes of absolute music wonder that skyrockets the album. A timed well, peaceful track breaking through anyone’s rough skin and making “The Similitude of a dream” stand out of the rest of the progressive albums.
Finally the album closes with “Broken Sky/Long day”, a song that is actually two but none can tell because of the perfect passing through. “Long day” was the first and kind of the last too. A ten minute song but don’t let that scare you. Really smooth piano and acoustic guitar combinations and an atmosphere so calm and clear that captures the listener and lets him travel one last time. It could easily be a soundtrack and it would be perfect. The song gradually gets built and an amazing, melodic, rhythmic guitar solo kicks in the third minute, perfect in timing. Finally, two minutes before the end the song reaches it’s peak with another more progressive and complex this time guitar solo, that literally doesn’t let the audience breathe only before it fades away really smoothly and end with an excellent and peaceful descent letting everyone process the majesty of this album’s last song.
Take my advice and find yourself time and listen to this, you won’t regret it.