Scotland has a history of churning out some amazing musical acts,
and over the past three or five years, there has been an inrush of
talent from that best part of the Union. One of the more recent artists
to hail from the Highlands is Newton Faulkner. His characteristic
hippy-strum acoustic guitars and bouncing songs can be fairly grouped
together with AAA acts like Jack Johnson, or even his countryman
Paolo Nutini. But where Faulkner stands on his own is in his
lyrical edginess, his delving into the inner workings of the heart
much more entrancingly than many of his overly-produced peers. The
earthy organic strumming of "To The Light" has the flavor
of early Jackopierce tunes, while "I Need Something"
is more lushly produced, filled with strings and an easy summertime
feel. The lead single from the record is the amazingly produced and
deep "Dream Catch Me," a song that has worked its way deep
into the psyche of anyone who has been exposed to its melodies more
than once. It is a song of brilliant escapism, relating the kind of
safety and protection we find in times of retreat from the madness
of the world which surrounds us all. The startling surprise track
of the record is Faulkner's cover of Massive Attack's epic
"Teardrop." The young, dreadlocked crooner approaches the
song wonderfully, with focus on his excellent vocal skills, backed
by a sparse and organic backing track lightly filled with acoustic
guitar and found percussion. "She's Got The Time" is a loose
ramble, more like a folky G. Love track than anything else,
where "UFO" has deliberate vocal strikes and intricate guitar
lines that remind more of Leo Kottke than any modern youngster.
There are a great many tracks on Hand Built By Robots, and
they run the musical gamut from soft and earthy to near rock icon
status, but when Faulkner breaks into lyrics like, "So don't
take my photograph/Cause I don't want to know how it looks to feel
I'm just moving uncomfortably slow" to the simplicity
of a cleanly strummed acoustic guitar, the man's heart comes shining
through the studio trickery, revealing an incredible depth and intense
and that is precisely what makes Scotland, and Faulkner's
music, so incredibly fantastic.
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