Review by Dave Crompton
God loves a trier – and the God of Melodic Rock/AOR is no exception. Steve Newman is the ultimate trier, and I don’t mean that in a derogatory fashion, not at all. Steve has been pulling the strings of his own musical destiny since the mid-80’s, but it wasn’t until 1997 that his hard work, determination, and of course musical skill and business acumen came to fruition – If you have belief and confidence in yourself, why not call your band the same name as yourself …. so he did!
Newman as a band are now on their 9th studio album, and one thing is certainly guaranteed with each release … good quality melodic rock songs with a production to match. As a listener you will never be let down. Since the release of the ‘ Best Of ‘ album Decade in 2008 Newman have entered a purple chapter in their history: The Art Of Balance (2010), Under Southern Skies (2011) and Another Step Closer – Live 2010 (at Firefest) have all been albums worthy of purchase. Now, in seemingly no time at all we have Siren – has it improved on what has gone before ? You betcha !!!!
Siren opens in typical Newman fashion with Scar Of Love. It’s a song, the likes of which we’ve heard so many times before, but that’s no bad thing as it clearly says to us ‘ Hey, we’re back … and we’re better than ever ‘!! It’s fast paced riff, pounding drums and singalong chorus make it the perfect opener. Steve’s vocals are at his usual high standard, and by the end of the song I found myself singing along and already waiting in anticipation for track #2.
Had Enough has, in just over a week, become one of my favourite Newman songs. It is a mid-paced song with a chorus to die for, and I’m sure it will find a regular slot in their future live performances. Arcadia is to Siren what Hysteria was to Def Leppard’s album of the same name – it is a sumptuous piece of music; not quite a ballad, but it certainly has that calming effect ….. Musicianship of the highest order !!
The tempo and intensity is cranked up for Another Bitch Of A Night. Initially it has a heavy, urgent riff which knows its place, and therefore, when the time comes, it gives way to yet another very accessible chorus. Feel Her Again begins with lush keyboards which are then usurped by what I can only describe as a guitar sound reminiscent of Simple Minds ( I’m sure you’ll correct me if I’m wrong ); this in turn is replaced by Newman’s default setting of mid-paced riffing and another great chorus.
Up to this point all songs have been written by Mr Newman himself, but Some Kind Of Wonderful is a co-write with the band’s ‘live’ drummer, Pete Newdeck ( Eden’s Curse ), and it is without question the heaviest track on the album, but …. it does still manage to retain the Newman sound ( not sure about the distorted vocals in the chorus though ). The title track Siren is a slow burner with plenty of light and shade which evolves into the obligatory catchy chorus and has a nice guitar solo mid-song. Another co-write follows – this time it’s the turn of Vega’s frontman extraordinaire (and very underrated lyricist) Nick Workman. I will never criticize talented songwriters, but it’s always nice to see other faces occasionally invited into the ‘inner sanctum’- When It Comes To Love is the perfect marriage of Newman and Vega styles. I suppose it could be called a semi-ballad, and special mention should be given to the haunting backing vocals ….. An outstanding song !!!
Crossfire is perhaps where the album begins to show signs of running out of steam. No, it’s not a bad song by any means, but songs about the military, whether it be American or British seem all too common these days ( I am ex-military by the way, and fully support the cause ). I appreciate songs are written about life’s emotions and events, but maybe different ‘angles’ should be explored. As I said, it’s not a bad song; the Newman riff, constant changes of pace, and of course … yes, you’ve guessed it, a great chorus all provide for a solid piece of work.
No doubt due to the very high standard set hitherto, the final three songs: Waiting For The Day, The Foolish One and Don’t Know Why don’t quite hit the mark with me. Again, they are certainly not sub-standard. The Foolish One especially, is a very accomplished ballad, but maybe they should have been inserted elsewhere in the running order – it’s only a minor gripe from me … You will build your own opinions.
So, in summary – Siren is certainly a Newman album. By that I mean it is a solid piece of work with first class production, and on the whole a bunch of great songs. With each subsequent album they seem to get better and better – I just hope Siren gains them more admirers, because they certainly deserve to have a bigger following.
Scar Of Love
Another Bitch Of A Night
Feel Her Again
Some Kind Of Wonderful
When It Comes To Love
Waiting For The Day
The Foolish One
Don’t Know Why
Steve Newman – Vocals, Guitars, Keyboards
Rob McEwen – Drums
Shaun Bessant – Guitar solo on ‘When It Comes To Love’
Robert Sall – Guitar solo on ‘Feel Her Again’
Pete Newdeck – Backing Vocals on ‘Some Kind Of Wonderful’ & ‘Waiting For The Day’
Nick Workman – Backing Vocals on ‘When It Comes To Love’
Steve Newman – Vocals, Guitar Shaun Bessant – Guitar, Vocals
Paul Boyle – Keyboards Pete Newdeck – Drums
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