Neal Morse will release "Sola Gratia", his new solo progressive rock concept album, on September 11. Originating from a seed planted in his mind about writing a record based on the apostle Paul, "Sola Gratia" quickly came together at the beginning of 2020. The album sees Neal working with longtime collaborators Mike Portnoy, Randy George, Eric Gillette, Bill Hubauer and Gideon Klein.
The title "Sola Gratia", of course, has echoes of Morse's 2007 epic "Sola Scriptura", about the life of Martin Luther, but was in fact originally the result of a simple marital misunderstanding.
"I was talking to my wife Cherie about debuting this new piece at Morsefest 2020 (Morse's annual fan convention in Nashville) and she said she thought it would be good for me to do a solo album," Neal says. "However, I thought she said 'Sola album' and — because some of the new ideas involved Paul's aggressive pursuit of the early Christians, I could see a link to some of the themes of persecution in 'Sola Scriptura'."
The music was recorded "virtually" in April 2020 at the height of the coronavirus lockdown with Portnoy (drums) and George (bass). "It's the first album we have ever made remotely: I sent them the basic tracks and asked if they wanted to rearrange things, but they just said 'No, it's great!', so they just played to it and sent their parts back over," Neal says. "It wasn't an easy way to make an album, but creating always has its challenges, no matter how you do it."
As Morse explains, it was this process that decided that "Sola Gratia" was to be a Neal Morse album, rather than being credited to THE NEAL MORSE BAND. "With THE NEAL MORSE BAND, the whole band works together on the writing, and while Eric Gillette plays some guitar and Bill Hubauer has added some keyboards on this one, neither of them wrote — or is singing — on this album."
"Sola Gratia" will be released as a limited CD/DVD digipak (featuring a "making-of" documentary), gatefold 2LP + CD, standard CD jewel case and as a digital album. The cover art was created by another longtime collaborator, Thomas Ewerhard.
The full track listing is as follows:
03. In The Name Of The Lord
04. Ballyhoo (The Chosen Ones)
05. March Of The Pharisees
06. Building A Wall
07. Sola Intermezzo
09. Warmer Than The Sunshine
10. Never Change
11. Seemingly Sincere
12. The Light On The Road To Damascus
13. The Glory Of The Lord
14. Now I Can See/The Great Commission
Neal Morse will debut "Sola Gratia" live at his annual Morsefest convention on September 18-19. A very limited number of people will be able to attend in person, with the event also being streamed online.
Look out for the first track release and pre-order opportunities starting on July 17.