The unusual thing about this album is the way it allows particular musical ideas to crop up in different places, allowing different sections to "refer" to each other. You'd really think you'd see a lot more of this but the phenomenon tends to be limited to concept albums. In the latter case it's usually rather clumsy and obvious (eg Floyd's The Wall). Here, you often don't even notice it in the first few listens, then you're suddenly surprised ("Oh, that's that bit from earlier......"). For example, the way the "Love Beyond Words" 5-note theme is repeated in a much less pleasant way in "All Is Vanity" is positively eerie.
Occasionally they lose it a bit. "Caaaaaaarrie / .... / let's take our chance and run / With just what we can caaaaarry..." Ouch. It seems to me Neal Morse is a very spiritual kind of guy; maybe he doesn't do earthly love that well.
On that subject, even though I'm not a Christian and will never be, the fact that Neal Morse is obviously so spiritually inspired shines out here and can be very moving. When he's singing about opening up the floodgates you can tell he believes it. Most bands seem to project some sort of personality from their music, and it isn't always a very pleasant one, possibly because they're trying hard to be cool and rebellious (Eminem and Oasis spring to mind). Others, like Queen, Rush and these guys, give out something much more philanthropic. I assume this is at least partly because emphasis is on musical creativity rather than image. You get the feeling they'd do it even if they weren't being paid. This is one of the reasons I like this album so much.
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