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Brett Newski
American Folk Armageddon
Good Land Records
www.brettnewski.com


Americana is alive and well in 2014 and here to prove it is relative newcomer Brett Newski. Newski's debut album, American Folk Armageddon on Good Land Records, is filled with excellent guitar playing, brilliant arrangements, and wickedly sharp lyrics. The words that permeate the album are not the kind we have become used to hearing from the mouths of our younger rock stars, but instead are fused with a deep knowledge of life and the things that haunt the human condition. Not always dark, but never shallow, Newski's true gift is in his songwriting, but the band he assembled to record the record did an amazing job of breathing ample amounts of life into each tune.

The album kicks off with “Dirt,” an exercise in where it all started; the blues. The track is electric and gritty and filled with a Delta-style stomp, incorporating much of the same sort of influence that folks like Jack White have done for years. The song will get your foot tapping and your head bobbing and the breaks will keep your ears tuned in for what might happen next, even on repeated listenings. But when Newski proclaims, “You want it perfect, but you already know/ I got some flaws buried in my code” he's not pulling any punches. “Vs. The World” breaks out the crisp acoustic guitars and steps up the tempo a bit, making an easier listening experience until one pays attention to what Brett is singing about. The many faces of Americana are represented ably on American Folk Armageddon, ranging from more down-tempo emo-ish acoustic tunes (“Sooner Than Now”) to righteous barn-burners (“Hell Will Be Better[If We're In It Together]”). Nowhere does Newski's songwriting work better than on “No Anchor” where his poetry is tight and the song contains such musical power that it is simply hard to resist. His observations on modern life and the struggles of humanity in the current age are priceless, especially through the eyes of someone from a younger generation. These themes run strongly through Newski's songs, but are perhaps strongest in the album closer, a sort of modernized talking blues called “We Are All Fucked.” Belying his years with this sardonic type of wisdom, Newski once more proclaims, “And now we all have ADD/ Our status is static/ Our private is public/ Let's take a step back/ Before our brains turn to eggs/ We were not made to go this fast.”

Brett Newski is a relatively new voice on the worldwide musical scene, purveying some fine Americana imbued with the sensibilities of his heartland upbringing. But let us not render him into some handy genre or confining/defining box. My sincere hope is that his future will be long and he will continue to develop his sharp lyrical wit and create great music for years to come. If not, we have American Folk Armageddon to get us by, but there is certainly more greatness to come from this young writer.

-David DeVoe

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