Newton Faulkner has toured with Paulo Nutini and James Morrison. You hear this fact far more often than you have to-it might have made sense to expose his palatable acoustic tinkerings to those massive audiences, but that association leaves too simplistic an impression. He specialises in partially progressive, free-willed folk-pop that is on one hand too cosy and warm for mass consumption-theres only so much space around the beach campfire-but on the other its so accessible, so infectious, so feel-good that how could it not be headed for every other car stereo in the country, windows rolled down (weather permitting). Its not cutting edge by any stretch of the imagination; he constantly reminds of the acoustic balladry of 90s soft-metal bands Extreme and Mr Big (or at least the songs "More than Words" and "To Be with You") via modern day peers like Ben Harper, but Newton Faulkner comes with a fertile imagination and an enjoyably flexible range to dress that foundation up. His gravelly cover of Massive Attacks "Teardrop" is notable and Jack Johnsons a good reference for the percussive plucking of tunes like "Gone in the Morning", "To the Light" and "Feels Like Home". There are very few 17-track albums that couldnt be improved by losing six tracks, but the consistency on Hand Built by Robots is admirable and hints at a long term talent. --James Berry
Soft rocker, acoustic alien, folk fantasist and blues boy are just a few of the nicknames you may fancy labelling Newton Faulkner. And if his personality is as laidback as his sound, the Surrey-bred Brit probably couldn't care less what you tag him. As long as it's not cheesy.
Hand Built By Robots, Faulkner's stripped-back debut LP, introduces a well-travelled 21-year-old, accompanied by little more than his calming vocal and handmade guitar. The sound is soothing, the vibe genteel, the lyrics often profound, sometimes humorous. Unlike many soft rock albums, where monotony too often takes over, Hand Built! brims with subtle yet welcomed variety.
From the off, you know you're in for an album that strays from the norm. Faulkner's spectacular guitar solo intro blends perfectly in to feel-good number 'To The Light'- with its high-speed lyrics, positive message, unusual breaks and hooky melody, it will undoubtedly dazzle. Move on to 'I Need Something' and you'll unexpectedly stumble upon space age wizardry mingled with classic acoustic guitar.
In stark contrast to the LP's more chilled moments, 'Dream Catch Me' (Jo Whiley's 'Record of the Week' on Radio 1) opens with a dark and nasty bassline, more reminiscent of UK garage/ grime than acoustic/ soft rock. The brilliant riffs, contagious melodies and rocket-fuelled pace make this an obvious highlight. Meanwhile, on 'Teardrop', Faulkner bravely takes on Massive Attack's haunting classic with considerable ease.
He may have seemingly come out of nowhere to spectacularly bag support slots for James Morrison and Paulo Nutini, play Glastonbury and be playlisted on Radio 1, but one's thing's clear: Newton Faulkner is here to stay. --Elle J Small
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