The title "Question mark" on Neal Morse says it all because the music leaves you with an empty feeling and a big ? - so what?s wrong?......coz I enjoyed his last solo album "One" a great deal. Well,you could expect a whole lot more from the impressive line up he has gathered playing on the album,Mike Portnoy-Drums (as always),Jordan Rudess-Keyboards,Steve Hackett-Guitar,Roine Stolt-Guitar,Randy George-Bass and his brother Alan Morse-Guitar. Ok,you shouldn?t blame the musicians coz they are doing everything possible to make the songs come alive but that?s just the problem here coz Morse compositions feels like big cannons shooting into thin air - great performance and a big sound won?t save this progrock regatta.
The opening track "The temple of the living god" is really nice but the other 50 minutes feels like a big sailing ship on a calm ocean,it doesn?t get anywhere......only a few short moments here and there takes the album up to Neal?s normal level. The Genesis flirt on "12" makes me smile for a while but as a whole effort,this album should?ve been released next year instead so Neal could?ve worked a little harder on the melodies coz let?s face it......he has written and recorded 50 songs between 2003-2005. To me it looks like he is starting to repeat himself just like he did in Spocks Beard at the end,there?s a lotta smoke but no fire so to speak!
I think that this album is quite good; it?s actually his best progressive rock solo album so far! He has found the melodies again and songs like ?The Temple Of The Living God?, ?Sweet Elation?, ?Outside Looking In? and ?12? (best song on the album) are good examples of that. Shorter songs in general and varied enough to keep focus all the way through, if not counting some heavier guitar riffs here and there this is a light weight progressive rock album with poppy melodies and great harmonies and I quite like it! Another good thing is the length on the album, just over 55 minutes compared to his previous more then lengthy release actually makes the album easier to grasp and digest. It would have been nice though to know exactly which parts that are played by guest musicians Steve Hackett, Roine Stolt, Jordan Rudess, Alan Morse and Mark Leniger! Conclusion: A nice and well balanced album full of great melodies and well crafted compositions in a light progressive rock atmosphere and with Christian lyrics.
Footnote: This is actually Neal?s 3rd album this year; the other two are the worship album ?Lead Me Lord? and the all Christian album ?God Won?t Give Up?.