Those into progressive rock should need no introduction to Neal Morse, but for the rest of us, some introduction would be helpful. First off the presence of Steve Morse (Deep Purple) on many of Neal’s projects instantly made me curious being a longtime Deep Purple fan and then when you add in Mike Portnoy (Dream Theater) also being involved in many of Neal’s projects, you start to get a picture of why the progressive rock tie exists and also the quality of people Neal can bring in. If we go back to 1992, Neal formed the prog rock band Spock’s Beard which went on to some acclaim followed by Transatlantic and after Neal’s conversion to Christianity, he formed several bands with Portnoy including Yellow Matter Custard, Flying Colors, and the Neal Morse Band. Neal has released several concept albums about Christianity and Christian themes starting with Testimony (2003) and more recently, Jesus Christ the Exorcist (2019) and Sola Gratia (2020). Prog rock aficionados will likely have also heard of Morsefest which started as a weekend festival at Neal’s local church in Tennessee and continued virtually through the Covid years and will be held live again this year.
For The Dreamer, Joseph pt. 1, Morse chose to cover the story of Joseph, who has quite the epic in the Bible (Genesis 37-50). Joseph was the most beloved of Jacob’s sons and his jealous brothers sold him into slavery, where he ended up in Egypt but through remaining faithful to God gained the favor of his master only to be accused of attempted rape by his master’s wife after Joseph spurned her advances and ended up thrown into prison which is where Part 1 ends. Part 2 will be released in 2024 and will conclude the story with Joseph gaining favor from Pharoah, essentially saving Egypt from starvation and also being reunited with his family when they come looking for food. To create such an epic, Morse brought in a variety of vocalists for different parts such as Ted Leonard (Spock’s Beard), Matt Smith (Theocracy), and Jake Livgren (Kansas, Proto-kaw). For some guitar help, Steve Morse and Eric Gillette join in on some tracks.