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Compass: Our Time On Earth
Compass - Our Time On Earth Art

Compass: Our Time On Earth

Melodic Hard/Progressive Rock

Compass is the new musical adventure of singer, songwriter, and guitarist Steve Newman. You probably know him best as the leader of his namesake band Newman which, coincidently, dropped a new album, Ignition, this past March. According to Newman, Compass would allow him to stretch beyond writing for Newman. In his own words, Compass "was to be something very different, liberating, both musically and lyrically, from anything I (sic) had created before, with the freedom to move across genres and not be pigeon holed within any particular musical style." Sounds good to me. With Newman on guitar and keyboards, Compass also features Ben Green on vocals, Dave Bartlett on bass, and Toni Lakush on drums.

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Steve Newman

We know Newman (the band) as basically an AOR melodic hard rock band. So what do we find with the artist Steve Newman and Compass? Something the same in the sense that melodic hard rock forms the foundation of most every song here. Yet, many arrangements have some light complexity and obvious intrigue that suggests progressive rock. After all, Newman cites influences from Dream Theater to It Bites to Saga.

Certainly, you get this with the multi-faceted and multi-layered Skies Of Fire, Our Time On Earth, Part I, and The Preacher And The Pigeon Feeder. The first song has some large guitar parts, including numerous solos. The latter two are enlivened by lilting piano lines. While you'll note Newman's ever present guitar work, his synths also support and rise in many songs, such as Another Life Suicide, A Warning From History, or Our Time On Earth, Par II. Alternatively, Another Life Suicide, along with Neon and Caught In A Frame turn more upon the melodic hard rock groove, notably in the tougher riffage, faster pace (in parts), and stronger, deeper rhythm section. Of the three, Caught In A Frame is pretty darn heavy. Yet, you can't deny some prog nuances lingering underneath those and all songs.

All said, I think guitarist and composer Steve Newman needs to step out of his musical confort zone more often. Compass and Out Time On Earth is a solid and entertaining album merging melodic hard with progressive rock, and demonstrating Newman's significan talent as a musician and songwriter. Easily recommended. - New fiction, crime fiction by Craig Hartranft

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The Bottom Line

Compass and Out Time On Earth is a solid and entertaining album merging melodic hard with progressive rock, and demonstrating Steve Newman's significant talent as a musician and songwriter. Easily recommended.

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