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Talented troubadour

Mark Newman - Must Be a Pony
(Danal Music)
3 1/2 stars (out of 5 stars)
Reviewed: Dec. 3, 2006
Mark Newman

Review by Andy Argyrakis

As a member of Sam Moore's touring band, Mark Newman has had his fair share of seasoning on the road, including appearances at this year's SxSW Festival in Austin and the Jazz & Heritage Festival in New Orleans. Though he stays plenty busy supporting the legendary singer from Sam & Dave, the singer/songwriter/multi-instrumentalist also took time to carve out a solo project with a few of his famous friends. Must Be a Pony includes several originals and a few covers, backed by session players such as Steve Holley (ex-Wings) and Anton Fig (David Letterman Band).

The results of his side stepping is met with stylistic variety, at times taking up acoustic pop, sometimes moving towards roots rock and often bordering on blue-eyed soul. "Dead Man's Shoes" makes for a sobering introduction with its Neil Young-esque groans and snarling slide guitars, followed by the much sunnier, love struck "What She Does To Me." Americana influences are unveiled on "Hard In the Rain," while "God For Sale" touches on the spiritual yearnings of Johnny Cash, complete with old time gospel/country arrangements.

Newman also makes a cover of Barry and Robin Gibb's "New York Mining Disaster 1941" works thanks to his smoky vocal delivery and growling guitars. On equally pensive though somewhat depressing notes, "Love Won't Ever Pass This Way Again" sings soulfully with sorrow, while "So, So Cynical" is also carried by bluesy tendencies. Clearly Newman's constant travels and nightly jam sessions have influenced a wide swath of sounds sure to resonate with Moore's core audience, along with fans of any thought provoking troubadours.

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