I’m a music addict. When I buy an album, it’s as much to get that rush of anticipation before I first hear the music as it is to actually listen to it. So, it’s wonderful to discover a new artist whose work more than justifies that initial hope of musical pleasure. Tim Morse is such an artist. His latest album, Faithscience, is an outstanding collection of progressive rock. I had never heard of him, but Faithscience showed up in the Progarchy Dropbox folder, I had a lot of yardwork to do, so I downloaded it onto the trusty iPod.
Four consecutive listens later, I’m still as excited about this guy’s music as I was the first time I discovered Spock’s Beard. (By the way, Tim is not related to Neal Morse.) My initial impression was of a definite Yes influence, and after I did a little research I found I wasn’t too far off-base; Tim is the author of Yesstories, a track-by-track history of that band. However, if you listen to Faithscience with the deliberate attention it deserves, you’ll notice a host of other influences; I hear Ty Tabor (King’s X), Roine Stolt (Flower Kings & Transatlantic), Toy Matinee (featuring the late, great Kevin Gilbert), some 70s Kansas and Genesis, and a lot of classic Todd Rundgren (think “A Wizard A True Star” era). Morse is a multi-instrumentalist who sings and plays keyboards, as well as acoustic & electric guitar.
That’s not to say Mr. Morse is merely an imitator of those influences. They serve as a springboard to create an incredibly beautiful work that is as individual and groundbreaking as any prog classic. On his website, Tim says the initial idea was to produce an album based on the life of Charles Lindbergh. However, the songs soon expanded to embrace a much larger concept. The first two-thirds explore different aspect of journeys, while the final third is about farewells.
The first highlight is “Voyager” which is about Lindbergh’s transatlantic flight. It features some very nice keyboard solos in the vein of classic Pink Floyd and Weather Report(!). Next is “Closer”, which features a beautiful piano motif that reappears throughout the song. At first, it seems to be a standard song about getting close to a romantic partner, but it ends up having a spiritual aspect to it. It also features a killer guitar solo (video below). This is followed by a classical guitar interlude accompanied by evening crickets that segues into “Numb”, which is inspired by the Lindbergh baby kidnapping and chronicles the emotional devastation that follows a personal tragedy. It’s an acoustic piece, and it is incredibly moving.
“Myth” is an Orwellian warning about the dangers of an all-powerful state.
It’s an iron fist inside a velvet glove
I despise everything we’ve come to love.
…And it’s no mystery how this myth
Becomes our history.
Let us help you.
Truth shall make you free.
Next up is “Found It”, which features some warm, 80’s-era synths before the guitars come crashing in. It’s about leaving behind old ways of life in the search for salvation. Morse’s collaborator, Mark Dean, lays down the best guitar solos of the album on this track.
In “Rome”, Morse laments the decadence and complacence of our times by comparing them to the end times of the Roman Empire. This might be my favorite track, with the lyrics
The empire is crumbling
Sending castles into the sea.
Still believing we are free.
“Rome” also features a terrific violin solo by Kansas’ David Ragsdale (video below).
“The Last Wave” is a mostly instrumental track that consists of various riffs and melodies thrown together La Villa Strangiato style. We’ve got jazz vibes and trumpet, metal guitar, prog keys, and some crazy time changes on this one.
Wrapping things up are two tracks that complement each other, “Afterword”, and “The Corners”. The former is a poignant farewell to a soul mate, while the latter is a heartbreaking song about the brevity of life on a beautiful world that few truly appreciate.
Self-produced, Faithscience is a triumph. It is amazing to me that a musician is able to put together an album of this quality without any major label support. Do yourself a favor and support his art by picking up this album now. You won’t be disappointed.