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.
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