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Steph Newton

Everything You Need EP

Squareball Records   www.squareballrecords.com

English West Country songstress with a lot of performing experience despite her youth releases 5 track CD EP and the first thing that strikes the listener is that this all sounds purposeful and well thought-out BUT not sterile or lacking in soul. It’s not that easy to work out Ms Newton’s main influences and this is a great thing as many chart acts are pretty much manifest homages to forbears. Although in Lady Gaga’s case more tuneful and craftily melodic than Ms Ciccone, of course.

Steph Newton sounds a pretty accomplished keyboard player which does give her a fine sense of timing and rhythm and a chordal richness that allows her voice to soar above the proceedings. I’d guess that she admires Alicia Keyes, maybe Vonda Shepard. As site visitors will know from our Q&A with the latter artist, she is in an upbeat positive frame of mind at present and easily the most appealing element of these Newton songs is her own springheeled attack allied to melody. You won’t find that combination on any amount of so-called TV talent shows, where the very best outcome can only ever be competent karaoke performers. If Newton is seeking success by graft and craft as seems to be the case, good on her.

‘Outta My Depth’ has swing, crispness a great piano tone and a sassy vocal, closer to soul than country. A strong chorus to boot, as catchy as Ms Cilmi and better phrased than almost all the tracks in the charts

‘If I Had You’ has a clipped contemporary beat and a knowing tune. It sounds 90% there as a radio-friendly production as well…

‘Everything You Need’ hits that jaunty feel again but the chorus packs in every cliche you’ve ever heard in a love song. It’s a fine tune so worth reworking imho

‘Little Bit’ is a relaxed 50’s tinged song, beautifully delivered. Newton doesn’t just sing with all guns blazing, she can lay back and here she mixes intimate with intense with reactive drumming and cymbal work. Her voice sounds great over the loping beat, such a natural soul feel…

‘My Imagination’ is another winner, rich electric piano tone at the heart of the cut and Tamla tambourine pattering away. Self-delusion never sounded so sexy.

A full album, please, when it’s ready. A quality act already on this showing

Pete Sargeant      www.fairhearing.co.uk

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