Guus : Big Life is the new project of Englishman Steve Newman, in my humble opinion an unfairly underrated artist. Under his own name this good man has made seven more or less cool albums (the last one was 'The Art Of Balance' from 2010), and also with this self-titled debut album the level is pretty high. Together with singer Mark Thomson-Smith (ex Praying Mantis) and drummer Rob McEwan Steve succeeded in recording a finger-licking album.
Opener 'Dying Day' for example starts with fierce drums and great guitarwork. 'Close To You' and 'Better Man' are nice mid-tempo tracks and 'Calling' sets off surprisingly with some Eastern sounds. 'I'll Still Be Here' is the mandatory yet nice ballad, and with 'Feel Alive' it is pedal to the metal. Of course one can hear influences from bands like FM, and if I am honest I think most of the AOR fans have heard every note before, but when executed in this particular cool fashion with Steve's subtle guitar you will not here me complain. Hell, sometimes the atmosphere on the album even reminded me of that on the Marillion classic 'Holidays In Eden'. Anyway, 'Deep Water' is another relaxed ballad, followed by 'At The End Of My Rainbow', in which they experimented somewhat with distorted vocals in the beginning of the song. 'Leaves' takes us back to pure AOR land again with nice acoustic guitars, and with 'Stop In Time', the heavy 'Takin Me Down' and 'Nothing Without You' de album comes to an end. Blessed with a good production, done themselves, I cannot say anything else then this is an album you want to check out if you are a genuine AOR fan.