Tom Newman

Tall Scary Things

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In his solo albums, Tom Newman has touched bases with progressive rock, new age, instrumental guitar, and blues. Tall Scary Things sees him turn to the song format. His songs contain several good ideas that are occasionally developed very nicely, but at other times he seems to aim too much at other artists' signature sounds to find one that befits him. The album starts strongly with the disquieting "Tall Scary Things," plus "Go to Work" and "Money," two very strong songs that have the wit and pop flair found in Rupert Hine's solo albums of the '80s. Sadly, things go downhill afterwards. Musically, "Anthem" is too close to '80s Pink Floyd for comfort, while the lyrics and vocal delivery are strongly reminiscent of Yes circa "Owner of a Lonely Heart." The latter also applies to "Dreams" and "She Said She Said," two songs that would not be out of place on one of Jon Anderson's more mainstream solo efforts. A producer's producer, Newman works slowly and patiently, often over-arranging songs that would have benefited from a simpler approach. In addition, the stiff drum programming and trite keyboard sounds tend to short-circuit the music's appeal. Still, fans of slightly intellectual '80s pop along the lines of Hine's Thinkman project or Anthony Phillips' Invisible Men will enjoy at least part of this album.

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