"Cubed" - Dale Newman's most recent release gets reviewed by Stuart Barnes.

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Issue #49 appears to be full of reviews of 'people with a vague connection to Genesis', and this next one continues the theme.

Dale Newman, long time Genesis roadie and now full-time member of the core-team at The Farm, has been recording songs there for almost 5 years. He writes and records in a small studio set-up in the storage barn at The Farm. This also gives him access to a considerable amount of equipment, which he makes good use of.

On to the review. Try as I might, I couldn't help making comparisons to Genesis songs when listening to Cubed. Dale is his own person and he certainly has his own style, but there are moments in his songs that show that he clearly has been exposed to the music of Mike Rutherford and Tony Banks for a long time. These moments lift the songs to another level and make them a lot more interesting to listen to than a lot of other styles (certainly the music-by-numbers that fills the charts these days). I will make myself clear now; this is not Genesis, but there are moments where I couldn't help but think that some of the moments wouldn't be out of place on a Genesis or solo record. Shades of Abacab, An Island In The Darkness, Uncertain Weather, Diamonds Aren't So Hard, etc, creep into the music in places, but they are worked into the songs very well. To balance that statement, I could also hear Marillion, Ultravox and Crowded House dotted around as well.

Dale's lyrics are very varied, from simple ballads to powerful anthems (even a pseudo-political song!). He is a very creative writer and arranger, but some of the songs do end up sounding like they have been recorded by one person in a home studio. However, that can't be held against him because that's exactly how the songs were made!

Vocally, Dale's voice fits the songs. He doesn't sound like Peter, Phil or Ray, so any comparisons made there wouldn't be fair. An area where he scores highly is in his arrangement of backing vocals and harmonies. As the album goes on, they become more prominent in the songs.

The songs themselves are well presented and well balanced instrumentally. For a guitar player, he has a very good ear for keyboard sounds and arrangements. There is more than one song on the album where the keyboards outnumber the guitars. Asides from that there is a good mix of guitar riffs, solos and the like throughout the album. All the songs seem to be kept to about 4 or 5 minutes in length (sorry, no Supper's Ready folks!), but they all develop nicely within that time.

If you're looking for Genesis, forget it. Dale is not them. You can hear the influence of the band in places, although there is probably more of a leaning towards the Tony Banks style than either the Mike Rutherford or Phil Collins trademarks. That said, he has a style all of his own; he doesn't try to sound like anyone apart from himself.

With 17 songs and at over 75 minutes long, Cubed is certainly packed full of material. This is an album for anyone interested in expanding their horizons with something new, but not too far removed from Genesis.

Click here to go to Dale's website.

Cubed can be purchased online from Camino records.