Big Life, a name that's clearly remind me of Night Ranger's classic release, definitely won't surprise me if anything inside has the derivative influences from what the Ranger did in the 80s, but to top the delicious cake, Steve Newman pours his tender melodic rock touch and Mark Thompon-Smith enhances the product with his metallic experiences he grabbed by fronting Praying Mantis in the early 90s. If you also have heard the prog/AOR mix of Slamer's "Nowhere Land" and two classic Giant albums, there are a lot of similarities in style in this record as well.
Going through this album from top to finish for the first time, the initial impression is they have a very unique composition, not the everyday melodic rock stuffs, many songs have unpredictable pattern, and the good thing is that every single tune is a hit potential. If you prefer their harder side, "Dying Day", "Close To You", "Calling", "Feel Alive", and "Takin' Me Down" are the best picks. If you're curious for the slower part, "I'll Still Be Here", "Stop In Time", and "Nothing Without You" are ballads carefully crafted for maximum enjoyment. The crème de la crème of this record is the third track, "Better Man". Driven by piano, it has a strong Toto touch, the chorus is a champion, the harmony is utterly brilliant, a superb song!
I didn't expect this album to be that good, after repetitive listening, this album is just get better and better, and I even came to the point that Big Life even surpasses the already-great release of Newman's "The Art of Balance" last year. It'd be a total waste if this project is only for one time shot, I know it's still early to put this in the 'top 10 releases of 2011', but I'm pretty sure this has a big chance to be there. For fans of melodic hard rock and AOR, it's an unforgivable crime to pass on this.
Bottom line : Bigger than just Big