Surfer dude who plays breezy, harmless, acoustic music; we have Newton Faulkner pretty much sussed right? Wrong. With Interference (Of Light), Faulkner is making clear that he’s far more than, plucky guitars, and fluffy choruses. Besides, he’s only just had his first surfing lesson.
From the first few seconds of thumping percussion on the opener ‘Sinking Sand’ the Surrey artist is making a clear statement that this project is no stripped-back affair. The track which was the first taster of the record back in April last year, sounds like an off cut from a Black Keys record, featuring a classic rock and roll guitar guitar riff and repeated vocal melodies.
So he’s trying his hand at a rock album? Well, no, other than ‘Sinking Sand’, ‘Four Leaf Clover’, and ‘I Can Pretend’, the 17-track record doesn’t tend to lean towards anything that can be considered heavy. But that’s not to say it’s subdued. Synths bring some colourful texture throughout, particular working well on ‘Leave Me Lonely’ and ‘Ache For You’.
Despite Interference (Of Light) being a brilliant showcase of Faulkner’s talents as a multi-instrumentalist, it does often feel restrained, like he is paddling out of his depth, rather than diving in head first. The heavier elements that pop up, never quite feel loose or cathartic (other than the aforementioned ‘Sinking Sand’ which does deliver there). Equally when we dip into more familiar pop territory, the hooks and choruses don’t take many production risks and lyrically don’t venture too far from any comfort zone.
‘Killing Time’ is an exciting direction, and an exception where Faulkner does seem to take the full plunge into a new sound. The track builds throughout, bringing in a host of exciting instrumentation far removed from his trusty acoustic, with choir-like vocal melodies coming in as the track reaches its peak.
For an album which sheds new light on an artist we all think we know, it’s actually the more traditional sounding songs which connect best. ‘Here Tonight’ displays exactly why Faulkner has been so successful with little more than an acoustic guitar. The campfire chorus and gentle instrumentation work to put Faulkner’s songwriting and vocal talents to the front.
The album flaunts Faulkner’s improved vocal ability throughout in fact. Of course, he has always had a great voice, but this, his seventh studio album, sees him reaching higher notes and experimenting more with his voice than ever before.
While this patchwork album succeeds in showcasing Newton Faulkner’s ability to borrow from genres, and actually remaining relatively coherent over 17 tracks, it rarely steals an idea and runs with it entirely. What Interference (Of Light) does offer though is glimmers of promising directions, segments of beautifully crafted songs, and some incredible vocal deliveries.
Newton Faulkner will be completing a UK tour towards the end of September, through to October and November. For full details and to purchase tickets, click here. Keep posted for our chat with Faulkner coming soon.