Big Life

1. Dying Day
2. Close To You
3. Better Man
4. Calling
5. I'll Still Be Here
6. Feel Alive
7. Deep Water
8. At The End Of My Rainbow
9. Leaves
10. Stop In Time
11. Takin' Me Down
12. Nothing Without You

Mark Thompson-Smith : Vocals
Steve Newman : Guitar, Keyboards, Vocals
Rob McEwen : Drums & Percussion



Produced by Steve Newman at The Blue Room Studios

Released 29/4-2011
Reviewed 17/4-2011


Big Life, for me that is a name that would clearly signify that this band is into melodic rock or AOR as the particular part of the melodic rock music I think of is called and that signification i hardly reduced when I look at the album cover and take in the atmosphere that is present in it. The bandmembers Steve Newman from his own thing Newman has a lot of experience in this field as well both as a musician in his own band but also as producer for a bucketload of bands. Singer Mark Thompson-Smith has been with the band Praying Mantis which is a quite known band and also known for it being a band of Uriah Heep singer Bernie Shaw but that is another matter altogether. Drummer is the fantastic Rob McEwen, at least according to the label he is fantastic I don’t believe I know anything he has done so I cannot really tell if they are right, but as I mention the other two I might as well add the final member of the trio as well.

Musically it is what you might suspect with the melodic rock music, distinctive choruses, high-pitched vocals, crystal clear and fantastic production. Did I mention choruses that wants you to really sing along? I think I did. This album has on my copy twelve named tracks and ends with one track that is not named which is called unnamed track in my music library on the computer, hopefully it is part of the real release as well. The album span for about an hour in music, around 57 minutes if you only count the tracks that have a name.

This album has one really big asset in singer Mark Thompson-Smith who has a voice fantastically suited for this kind of music. He can carry great songs to higher levels and he can also make less good songs sound a lot better with his way of singing. Unfortunately the times when he get to do the former is not very many on this album as most of the songs feel quite dull to be honest. It feels like they have been looking at the genre and calculated how to write songs that are different songs on an album but still completely in live with what the genre is about, a mathematically correct album that has no soul in many parts. Sure the vocal performance add some soul to the songs but not even that can turn the attention away from the fact that it is quite average most of the album.

There are some highlights through the album though, the opening track Dying Day is not one of those, it is more of a case of how not to begin your melodic rock album since it is a really boring track that really doesn’t do anything other than make me want change album.

The sixth track Feel Alive has a good verse and bridge, really good, but the chorus is one of the worst ever written into an AOR song, it is terrible. Why did they do such a thing, didn’t they hear that the chorus sucked? Well, I have no idea I am not a part of the band. They fortunately redeem themselves in the next track that is called Deep Water and is really good and the first really good track on the album. It is followed by At the end of the Rainbow which is a great track and all of a sudden the record come alive. But only to die again with the next group of tracks.

Most of the album feels quite mediocre to be honest and that is a bit sad as it feels like it is a bit of wasted potential as the best tracks are really good and the feel that shine through all these rather boring tracks is that there is potential for fantastic music in there. Fantastic might not be the word for track twelve, the last of the named tracks but it is a really good track with a nice feel to it. They do save the best for last though, the unnamed track is the gem of this album, a fantastic track with such energy and flow all through the song all four minutes of music all make this band come really alive, why did they not do that earlier? I guess the band think that he who waits for something good shall wait for fifty seven minutes.

Unfortunately there is only about 25% of the time this album plays that are really good and if you as I am, are hearing a lot of music then this album will be a bit of a disappointment when only the amount you pay in VAT to the Swedish government when you buy this album is what is good on the album so you could say that the state take all that is good here in Sweden and ruin everything else which is more or less true of these days but that is something of another matter as well.

So I think this album is a case of wasted potential and if you are desperately searching for a great AOR album that begins with the letter B then I can recommend Bad Habit, they have a similar sound but they are much better. That is why I have come to the conclusion about this album: that if you think it seems like an interesting band and therefore reads this review, buy Atmosphere by Bad Habit.


Label - AOR Heaven/GerMusica
Three similar bands - Bad Habit/Newman/Praying Mantis
Reviewer: Daniel Källmalm