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Friday, April 16, 2010

Newman - The Art of Balance CD review

Newman – The Art of Balance (Chrome Dome)

So, how does an artist that’s released 7 impressive previous albums, 5 through a genre specific label and 2 other self financed, again strong releases …., follow that?
He does it again!

Yes, Steve Newman the man behind the band Newman, has conjured up another gem, off his own back in The Art of Balance and after getting himself and his new live band, much praise at last years UK Z-Rock festival and guest slot to John Waite, he did himself a world of good! That praise it seems has this year earned him a place at the UK’s now premier melodic rock event, Firefest in 2010.

In addition to that he’s got a slot at this years Cambridge Rock Festival, along with a few more live shows as well, so 2010 looks like the year Newman will more than prove themselves over past years when there weren't so many live gigs from the band.
From what Steve has told me, he's very happy with the new live Newman band, so catch them live if you can!

He’s certainly got a great new album to plug too, yes The Art of Balance with it’s very clever and dare I say it, pretty cover -There I said it! – is one to go and get!

He open’s the album in a similar fashion to his Heaven Knows album, with some radio broadcast compilations telling of the deaths of stars such as Elvis, Michael Hutchence, Kurt Cobain and Michael Jackson as the intro to ‘Hero To Zero.’ Something that’s predominantly clear on this album, is how strong a presence the bass playing has here, much more so than before.

Anyway, that aside it’s a great rocking song with Steve Newman playing some of his finest lead work here, but also, what strong hooks too. Something he seems to have no trouble with pulling off at all.

‘Edge of the World’ starts with just vocals, some deft keyboard touches, then …, it’s that bass again! Then the song launches and just grows bigger and bigger and with great structure and tasty solo work again.
Love it!

Next track, ‘Endless’ in a similar way to the previous track starts kind of laid back, before building with the drums, easing back a little with the verse and the chorus just kills with it’s urgency and hook strength and then he takes it further to another level, in the mid section before coming back with that strong chorus repeating. Great!

‘The Miracle’ is a mid paced track, that at first didn’t grab me but with further plays, it’s showing it’s growing strength and now it’s grown with each listen and proved it’s place here and the mans vocals never seem to amaze how he’ll throw something different in the mix, with his phrasing and it just adds a little bit more with each album.

Power ballad time then, with next track ‘Stay With Me’ and it’s an area Steve Newman has no trouble with as he eases through more hook lines and big choruses.

Now Steve don’t get upset, but I have to say it …. ‘Tumble Down’ starts with a sound not unlike something Journey would do, with a big impact before getting into a chug along verse and then the pace picks up for an uptempo chorus, and goes back and forth this way before solo time comes along and off he soars!

Keyboard arpeggios start ‘Wish You Well,’ before the song comes on with a tight, snappy verse and again good chorus but perhaps not as strong a song as the previous 6 tracks, but still good stuff.
‘Find My Heart’ starts with some breathy vocals and slow verse before the chorus kicks in strongly and yes, the song grows nicely.

Next track, ‘Your Surrender’ seems to take Newman in a slightly different direction, with the structure of the song, still a good, easier going pop rocker.
‘Break It Again’ starts slow with guitar used to good effect and again, this track wasn’t grabbing me so much initially but on further plays I really like this song.

Tell me, is that a ballad I hear?! ‘Forever’ is a strong ballad that put simply, just takes things down a little and Newman take their foot off the accelerator just for a little while. Nice one again!

Closing track is ‘Stronger’ and it’s a good mid to up tempo paced, edgy pop rocker, that's well structured initially, then it takes a bit of a back seat and Mr. Newman allows himself a little longer solo this time than previous and this then takes the song out to almost 7 minutes. Sweet stuff!
So yes, I do like this album and yes Steve Newman deserves credit here for sure, as he has indeed come up with a good one ..., yes yet again!

It’s a very good and strong release with some very good guitar work throughout, strong vocals too and this  should certainly make fans of the band very happy and also they should look forward to some Newman live dates with 2 festival dates lined up and some select other dates being confirmed too! - In the UK only unfortunately!
Rating: 4 / 5

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