Neal Morse – Life And Times album review

Solo Morse in easy listening mood.

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You wouldn’t guess from The Neal Morse Band’s most recent output that their leader was mellowing into soft middle age. 2016’s The Similitude Of A Dream and 2015’s The Grand Experiment may have featured his now customary eulogies to the almighty, but they were still multi-faceted prog records. But as anyone who’s seen Morse play solo live over the last few years knows, he can do the straightforward stuff well. This collection of easy-going soft rock numbers might prove too bland to connoisseurs of musical sophistication, but they are well-crafted. Livin’ Lightly and Good Love Is On The Way employ irresistible strokes of Eagles-y peaceful easy feelings, the latter a five-minute romance in which ‘She’s the beauty barista, he’s the corny cashier.’ But while most of these songs are blissed-out tales of the good life, as the slightly saccharine taste starts to cloy, the mood darkens with the tale of a traumatised veteran in He Died At Home. Later, the pedal steel-streaked, violin-laced flavourings of Old Alabama, and some sublime guest vocals from Julie Davidson, show Morse’s songs sound even better dressed in the battered denims of Americana.