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Saturday, August 24, 2013

Newman – ‘Siren’ album review

Newman – ‘Siren’ album review

Released on: AOR Heaven. Release date: Available now

So, here we have the latest and greatest release from Newman, 'Siren' is in fact the tenth studio release from the band and yes, Steve Newman and ‘friends’ have conjured up something magical once again!

The thing I have always enjoyed about when Steve puts out a Newman album is he is always consistent and I for one have yet to be disappointed by the project.

Much as I’m sure Steve will hate me saying this, Newman has really – At least in the studio. – always been just that, a project as he’s pretty much had different people involved each time, with the exception of one mainstay on drums – I guess the one instrument Steve really does not play, although I’m sure he could! – in Rob McEwen for the past five studio releases.
He’s the guy is who Steve has always called upon to play on each album since the 2006 release ‘Heaven Knows’ and I must say, he’s always done a fine job by me!
Steve has yet to call upon his full live band to perform on a Newman release, but I guess if you can pretty much do it all yourself, go for it!
For this release though, Steve has got other input by calling upon first, from his live band Shaun Bessant for some guitar work on one song, also to Robert Sall (Work of Art / W.E.T.) to co-write another of the songs here. Two other contributors here are Newman’s new live band drummer Pete Newdeck (Eden’s Curse) for co-writes on two songs and to another old friend in Nick Workman (Vega, Kick) on another.
If you’ve been a fan of previous Newman releases, then I’m certain you’ll love this, as I hear elements from various aspects of his previous releases across the board and perhaps as more of an added bonus, the focus is less on ballads / slower paced tracks and more on up tempo numbers.
So to open these twelve tracks, is the storming ‘Scar of Love,’ which kicks things off in a similar rockin’ fashion to say the likes of ‘Heaven Knows,’ or ‘Hero To Zero,’ just rocks like a good ‘un, pummeling double kick drums, huge chorus, great riffs …, you get the picture … Nice start Steve!
‘Had Enough’ has actually become one of my absolute favourites on the album through repeated plays and you know, it almost brings to mind a little of what Steve captured on his very first Newman album, back in ‘98.
Maybe I’m just a nostalgia freak! LOL!

It’s got great production value, just a really wonderful sound that stays pretty simple through the verses, but then the chorus is just so rich. Wonderful!

It’s perhaps because Steve has kept a lot of simplicity in the song structure, something that when you really strip down what Def Leppard do, you realize that the songs themselves from the band, are pretty simple and there’s a lot to be said for that, when it comes to writing hook lines / catchy choruses.

Now I come to mention Def Leppard – And Steve will probably hate me for this, but … - next song ‘Arcadia’ gives a little nod perhaps, not only to perhaps ‘Hysteria’ but maybe John Waite’s ‘Missing You,’ in its structure.
No bad thing, familiarity works great for many folks, but I am only saying ‘similar’ not rip off, as all three songs mentioned of course completely have their own identity.
‘Another Bitch Of A Night,’ is certainly a more edgy track certainly throughout the verses, but then comes the chorus and yes, great harmonies and rich sounding, then the bridge takes you somewhere else with some nice twists.
Next song ‘Feel Her Again’ is simply classic Newman from the building intro to the slick verse and strong chorus once more. Some great changes here and there and Steve calls upon Work of Art’s Robert Säll for the ‘guest’ guitar solo here.
Nicely done indeed, a solo Steve would be proud of.
‘Some Kind of Wondeful’ starts as strong as the opener ‘Scar …’ It just races out of the starting blocks and has another edgy approach to it, almost punky in Steve’s vocal in places, then it almost reminds me a little of something like Toto in their heavier moments. Kind of clever …
Title track ‘Siren’ kind of creeps up on you from its start and then the chorus hits and Steve does it again, winner!
There’s certainly classic Newman about this too where I’m reminded of ‘Heaven Knows’ and even ‘Art of Balance’
To a degree, but then Steve pulls out some great interplay with keys too, nice touches and …, next please!
 With ‘When It Comes To Love’ Steve brings his live band guitarist Shaun Bessant to provide the lead solo here.
It’s one of those songs that build and just really comes into its own, from a very familiar sounding opening riff and then it eases back through the verse and then grows in the chorus and then goes back and forth from easy verses into the up tempo choruses and there’s a little edginess in the bridge, that’s followed by the rather tasty solo from Mr. Bessant.

It's just magic stuff!

‘Crossfire’ seems to be classic Newman, but I really think there’s a very Journey like vibe to this song, certainly very much so through the chorus phrasing. The underlying musical interplay through the verses and pre-choruses is also very modern day Journey like too.
There’s quite a bit of layering about ‘Crossfire’ too, really nice, there's almost a likeness to ‘One Step Closer’ here and there too. Good 'un!
There’s quite a different feel / vibe altogether through the verses in ‘Waiting For The Day To Come’ although there are little elements not unlike ‘Primitive Soul’ at times as well.
I do like the - albeit too brief – harmony guitar part in the last third of the song, but there’s obviously a lot more to it.
It’s a relatively mid tempo number, with some edginess but still plenty of melody.

It’s all good by me …
So to the albums only true ballad, power ballad that is, made clear by the heavy piano presence. It's something that Steve has certainly mastered in his writing, not just 'the art of balance,' but the art of ballads too! Ha! Sorry, a little cheesy pun there!
The solo in ‘The Foolish One,’ here is to die for, magic Steve, absolute gem mate!
It’s funny as I mentioned on ‘Some Kind of Wonderful’ that Steve had captured elements of Toto’s heavier moments in that song, well, there’s a heavy, kind of Toto feel about final track here ‘I Don’t Know Why,’ right down to some very Luke  - Steve Lukather - like guitar moments, but the keyboard touches are right there with some of Toto’s best moments.
It’s a great closing track it really is, very strong indeed in such a way that it sounds like an epic track yet it’s under five minutes long. Love it!
As I said at the start, the thing with Newman the band or Newman the man is that it’s consistent and that’s not bad.
  He may bring different guest players in, but for the most part, it is Steve Newman singer / songwriter / guitarist / all-round musician and producer to boot and he has not released an average album yet, let alone a bad one!!
So, hat’s off to you again Steve, you really do put so much time and attention to detail into your work and just ignore the doubters, clearly based on the gigs in recent years that the band is picking up, I’m not the only one recognizing that this talent deserves praise.
It’s a winner by me, no doubt!
Rating: 4.75 out of 5

Go here directly to hear samples of all Newman's work!