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On disc: Newman

Under Southern Skies - Claudia Ehrhardt - 8 stars

Under Southern Skies

Under Southern Skies
(AOR Heaven - 2011)

Steve Newman isn't a nobody to fans of AOR and hard rock - even if some might think of the TV character in the TV sequel Seinfeld when coming across Newman. Anyway, Under Southern Skies is Newman's 9th album. The self-titled debut was released in 1998, so he was quite busy making music. Especially as he's playing everything beside drums and is also handling the production. The cover shows an observatory, could be SOAR or La Silla in Chile... Or Haleakala Observatory... Or Mount John Observatory... Anyway, all would go along with the title. ;)

Newman kicks off with Killing Me, a powerful up-tempo tune with expressive vocals. Highly infectious. At If He Loves Me features Shaun Bassett on lead guitar and is a happy rocker. For the title track Mr. Newman adds some heaviness, it's a powerful guitar-driven heavy rocker spiced up with keyboard. A balladesque tune with acoustic guitar you get with Strength To Carry On, kind of power ballad. Back in the late 80's this would have been on heavy rotation. Ghost In The Night is another rocker with heavy riffs and emotional vocals. Another ear catcher. The main difference to Big Life is that this time Steve Newman handles the vocals himself and his dark timbre fits well. And make the songs stick out from other AOR / melodic rock tunes. Fire With Fire also sticks out a bit, coz the keyboard is quite prominent. For me this is another highlight of Under Southern Skies. Towards the end I miss a bit variety, but on their own the songs can stand easily. The closer Montserrat is piano-based and puts the focus on Steve's vocals. But then they add power, an enchanting rocker. This one will make you spin Under Southern Skies again! Well done!

8 stars

Claudia Ehrhardt


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