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Newton Faulkner
Hand Built By Robots
Columbia Records
www.newtonfaulkner.com


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 like this… 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 sincerity… and that is precisely what makes Scotland, and Faulkner's music, so incredibly fantastic.

-Embo Blake

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