This is a hard (very hard) CD to review objectively.
I've long been an admirer of Neal and his music. Since his departure from Spock's Beard, Neal has produced a massive amount of output of great quality in the concept albums, 'Testimony', 'One', '?' and 'Sola Scriptura'.
If taken in context with his previous releases, `Lifeline' is practically identical to these, certainly no better, and probably not of the same high quality. The word stagnation springs to mind, especially considering his continuing emphasis on Christian lyrics, which are starting to wear thin and be repetitive.
But is it fair to judge an album in conjunction with previous output? Possibly. Possibly not.
The album is made up of individual songs, some of rather shorter length than the norm for Neal. It wouldn't however be Neal without at least one epic and we are treated to one near 30 minute long segue in, arguably the high point of the album, 'So Many Roads'. The low point is 'Leviathan' a rather disjointed song that even has me racing for the 'Next track' function. To be fair, all the rest of the songs are of a high quality, especially the closer, 'Fly High'.
Is it worth listening to? Definitely yes, but I won't be playing it as often as '?' which, in my opinion, remains his strongest release by a fair distance.
For the above reasons this album gets between three and four stars, so let's say four, I'm feeling generous.