Review – Newman – Into The Monsters Playground
AOR Heaven (September 10th 2021)
Reviewer: Stephen Brophy
Steve Newman is back with his band and a bunch of new songs, one of the stalwarts of the UK AOR scene, Newman have released a number of excellent albums over the years, so how does album No. 13 ‘Into The Monsters Playground‘ sound. Steve Newman alongside the songwriting and vocals provides all of the instruments on this one aside from drums, which are once again taken care of by Rob McEwen. Unlike the last album there are no additional backing vocals thrown in, but it’s not to the detriment of the album. For these ears anyway there’s definitely a harder edge to this one in places, that’s not to say that Newman have lost their melodic side, far from it, and it works really well.
Having covered a number of of Newman albums in the past including last years ‘Ignition‘ a lot of that still holds true, and you to a certain degree can be pretty sure what to expect from a new release, Steve’s a very talented musician, singer and songwriter, so it’s no surprise that you get a another release of classy tracks. The heavier edge on this one suits the band in 2021. ‘Into The Monsters Playground‘ is again a collection of 12 takes with melodic keyboards weaved around them and an ever reliable drum beat tying it together.
There are some cracking tracks on this one, ‘Don’t Come Runnin’‘ started to bounce around in my head pretty much straight away, on the face of it a pretty straight forward punchy hard rock track, but it’s definitely got that earworm quality to it that is still holding strong. A very strong opening to the album is rounded off by the powerful ‘Hurricane Sky‘, yet another track here with a very strong chorus. I always love Newman ballads, so ‘Spirit Cries‘ not surprisingly hits the mark once more, ok maybe it’s not strictly a ballad, but it’s a beautiful song nonetheless, The closing track ‘This Life Alone‘ is a mix of sombre with some upbeat music that works surprisingly well and it’s a nice way to finish things off..
No doubting this release will be a hit with Newman fans and fans of Melodic Rock in general. The band had a busy schedule lined up including some live dates prior to the Pandemic, so hopefully the guys can get out on the road to play some of these new tracks. Either way this one is well worth taking a listen to and as always it’s a product of for me an underrated artist.