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Newman - The Art Of Balance

posted 25 Jul 2011, 07:19 by Paul Woodward   [ updated 25 Jul 2011, 07:23 ]

This is the 7th proper studio album from Newman, not including the “Best Of” - Decade. Newman, which until recently was basically Steve Newman singer, songwriter, multi -instrumentalist and in recent times producer/mixer.

After ‘Decade’ was released Steve decided to assemble a full time band in order to make playing live more possible and hopefully more frequently. You could say “The Art Of Balance” is the first album by the full Newman band, although other than Drums (provided by Rob McEwen) Steve performed everything you hear on the album but I think having a full band around him has been good for Steve and it shows on this album.

Completing the Newman line-up is Neil Richardson (Guitars), Terry Horne (Bass), Paul Boyle (Keyboards) & Nic Liposome (Drums). Chrome Dome Music is Steve’s own independent label and the album was recorded at Steve’s own studio “The Blue Room” where he also produced and engineered the album. Don’t let the Indie aspect of this album put you off; this probably has the best sound of all the Newman albums to date.

 I’ve been a big fan of Newman ever since I heard “Let Your Heart Rule” on a Point Music sampler way back when! He has always produced consistently good quality melodic rock albums so has gathered a loyal following and I’m surprised he isn’t more well known and respected even just within the melodic rock underground scene.

However, I was bitterly disappointed with the last album “Primitive Soul”, which saw a darker, rawer sound which went whizzing straight over my head! I think given the stance of that album it would be one that Steve likes the most and is proud of from an artistic point of view and the massive critical acclaim he received at the time must justify the artistic credibility of the album. As for me, I was left missing the huge melodies & the hooks so prevalent in Steve’s previous work. So whilst I was really looking forward to another album from Newman, I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t hoping it was a return to the vibe of his older work and not a continuation of his previous album.

After listening through a couple of times it became quickly apparent to me that this is by far the best thing Steve’s ever done! I never thought he’d better “Heaven Knows”, but he has hands down! The album does have elements from “Primitive Soul” but it is far more reminiscent of his earlier works. I think this album is heavier and ballsier than most of what we’ve had from Steve in the past, but he hasn’t sacrificed those big melodies and harmonies in order to create that heavier edge. He truly has maintained “The Art Of Balance” on this one, keeping the art critics and the fans happy at the same time!

One thing that has always drawn me to Newman is the lyrics, Steve is always very good at creating relatable lyrics whilst avoiding clichés as much as possible - a problem which haunts many melodic rock / AOR bands as far as critics are concerned.

There are always one or two songs from Steve’s albums that hit a chord with me and many Newman songs have deep personal meanings for me or have come to have great sentimental value. Steve has delivered again! He has an uncanny knack of been able make lyrics more powerful and as meaningful as possible by wrapping it in the right melody or hook to grab and demand your attention.

“Hero To Zero” is a full on rocker, which has a “Primitive Soul” vibe to, but a thousand times better. It has a heavy guitar riff and some thunderous bass and drums, giving the song a great rock n roll swagger. It opens the album with a bang, with plenty of hooks and an instant melodic chorus.

“Edge Of The World” - if you add some big pomp keyboards to the chorus, you’d think you were listening to a Magnum or a Bob Catley solo album! Fantastic epic sounding rocker, with a huge chorus and a killer guitar solo and hell who doesn’t like a song with plenty of woooahh a woooahh’s in it!

I think the band are currently filming a video for all out melodic rock hit “Endless”, which is Newman at his finest, full of hooks, melodies to kill for and a huge sing-a-long chorus with fantastic lyrics. Combined with some of Steve’s finest guitar playing and musicianship gives this song a real power and this is destined to be a live classic.

“The Miracle” has a strong “Heaven Knows” feel to it albeit a little ballsier, a driving big riff rocker with some great keyboards!

Mid-tempo ballad “Stay With Me” is an instant hit, I’ve had the pleasure of hearing this live when Newman played Z Rock @ JB’s last May and it comes across just as powerfully in the live arena. It has an extremely smooth commercial AOR sound, great lyrics again and an infectiously instant melody on the chorus which makes this one of the stand out tracks on the album.

There are some extremely effective use of keyboards on “Tumble Down” - another big riff rocker with an instant fist pumping rocking chorus. There is a great build up in the verses which gives the chorus even more punch!

Hook filled “Wish You Well” has a fantastic keyboard riff, which I absolutely adore and gives the song a real old school Newman vibe! It has a really memorable chorus and some great guitar licks that make the song a instant hit.

Another ballad “Find My Heart” is up next and it has a really powerful chorus, some great guitar licks on here especially during the chorus. “Your Surrender” is a bit of moody number, it has a pre-chorus that really grabs you and delivers you up to a wonderfully melodic chorus.

“Break It Again” has a fantastic chorus and great song structure which again makes the chorus that more instant, and after you’ve finished singing along to the chorus you can enjoy another top draw guitar solo!

Newman has a tradition of creating some great memorable ballads and here we get three with “Forever” been the last of the trio on here. It has a really powerful and memorable chorus and some excellent guitar work brings out the best in the vocal melodies. “Stronger” has a killer melodic pre-chorus and a big typical Newman chorus. Some kick ass hook filled and infectious guitar parts make it a hit and a fantastic upbeat way to close the album.

The debut Newman album came out 13 years ago and Steve has definitely honed his craft to create his best work to date. Hopefully this album will garner him the respect and the wider fan base that he and the music truly deserve. If you like you’re Melodic Rock with its own approach and a fresh modern sound; I highly recommend checking this out! Its British melodic Rock at its finest, full of hooks, huge melodies and some killer musicianship! If you’re already a fan prepare to wet yourself with joy! Either way I suggest cracking open a beer, cranking it up to 11, and singing along til the meat wagon arrives to drag you away!

Track Listing: Hero To Zero / Edge Of The World / Endless / The Miracle / Stay With Me / Tumble Down / Wish You Well / Find My Heart / Your Surrender / Break It Again / Forever / Stronger

Album Rating: 5/5

Woody’s Essential Track: Endless

The Art Of Balance is OUT NOW from all good retailers and