Newton Faulkner has always been in a league of his very own within the singer-songwriter community. Honing in on and utilizing a unique and world renowned guitar skill to it’s fullest extent, Faulkner’s work through 4 studio releases has seen the ginger dreaded musician evolve from a stripped back emerging artist to a fully fledged mainstream superstar who impresses and pushes boundaries with every new release; introducing new levels of craft and skill to each new record and he goes to prove that his latest studio album is no exception.
With a 2 year gap between studio releases, Faulkner returns this month with album number 5 – Human Love. The collection is easily his finest work since his debut album, Handbuilt By Robots which when released set a new benchmark for a genre he has mastered many times over thanks to guitar fueled singles including I Need Something, Gone In The Morning, Clouds, Over and Out and his signature mainstream staple, Dream Catch Me.
One thing we noticed after an initial listen to Human Love was how many of the 11 tracks that gel the record together have the potential to be enormous singles for the musician. They are everywhere here and that has got to be a comforting feeling for any musician about to release a new record.
The first track is of course the records beautiful lead single, Get Free a penning borrowed from recent breakthrough act Major Lazer. While the video shocks fans as it shows Faulkner chopping off his trademark dreadlocks, the stylistic approach to the cover also signals a brand new chapter within the musician’s career. There is certainly a sonic shift between Get Free and previous Faulkner lead singles with the musician’s unique choice in cover and the tracks intricate ‘backstep’ melody showing off a new maturity in Faulkner’s vocal skills.
Step In The Right Direction begins gently with a thumping drum beat before developing into a punchy up-tempo gem within the new collection as its chorus transforms the track into a solid and memorable addition with big guitars crashing into the numbers centre.
Faulkner explores African melodies and instrumentation on Far to Fall and early highlight Up Up and Away; the latter delivering plenty of “whooaas” within it’s chant-like structure. Up Up and Away is pure finger-picked heaven wrapped in gorgeous falsetto drenched vocals and is easily one of the records most memorable and catchy residents.
Just when you think things couldn’t get any better we are introduced to Passing Planes. Now, this track could very well be the international hit that Faulkner has been longing for – THE track to potentially launch him into U.S consciousness. Passing Planes is a powerful centerpiece to Human Love that welcomes the use of a thundering piano and a momentous rhythm while Faulkner belts out an outstanding vocal. It is truly remarkable. Though Passing Planes sits modestly in the middle of the record – this is the record’s encore performance right here.
The token duet for Human Love follows and introduces listeners to dutch songstress Tesa Rose Jackson with Stay And Take giving the record a touch of femininity through Jackson’s unique vocal grittiness and the tracks raw instrumentation proving playful as both singers share verses and unite for the tracks’ punchy and anthemic chorus.
Human Love showcases Faulkner as a gifted guitarist, a versatile performer and a truly sublime vocalist with an unrivaled songwriting talent. Moving effortlessly between somber ballads like the minimalist Break and the eclectic and quirky Can I Be Enough through to world-scented toe tappers like Up Up and Away and Far To Fall, Faulkner has raised the bar yet again and delivered a truly exceptional collection with Human Love. Move over Ed Sheeran – there is only room for one ginger singer/songwriter and his name is Newton Faulkner!