Photo: Newton Faulkner (press release)

In Conversation with Newton Faulkner

Twelve years on from his debut album Hand Built By Humans we got a chance to catch up with Newton Faulkner ahead of his latest release.  A more retrospective LP featuring The Best of…So Far in his career. In addition, fans have been treated to three new tracks as well as a selection of covers that often feature in his live shows.

Faulkner felt that after his sixth album Hit the Ground Running he had reached “the end of that journey”, finding what he was searching for in his previous releases. The record was an admittance that “I have no idea what I’m doing” which lead to an acceptance of doing what he loves with his music. A suitable time it seems, to release a “best of” album.

With over a decade of releases narrowing down a career to a single album is a daunting task. Understandably so then, when pressured to pick just one favoured track, Faulkner could go only so far as two. That pairing consisted of ‘There Is Still Time’ and ‘Up Up and Away’. The former as it sums up “pin drop moments” in his shows, each guitar string having full impact in the silence. With that in mind it’s disappointing to see that this track didn’t make the best of despite its clear importance to the artist.  ‘Up Up and Away’ made the cut for very different reasons, representing the high production tracks that provide a more energetic experience.

Faulkner certainly seems to have many to have many strings to his bow, proving proficient in many styles from folk rock to more mainstream pop. More unusually though he has also had roles in the musicals ‘American Idiot’ and ‘War Of The Worlds’. ‘American Idiot’ seems especially appropriate as his first ever band was indeed a Green Day cover group, who’s music provides the soundtrack to this show. Faulkner’s experience in these performances had him performing to “some of the biggest crowds he’s dealt with” which was something he relished. However, Faulkner commented that these roles were simply “the right parts” for him and he is unlikely to make another appearance in another musical anytime soon. Rather he prefers being on stage as musician, where you can break the fourth wall with the audience to create a more casual atmosphere.

Like many musicians, on the road is where Faulkner is in his element. His upcoming tour starts on the 26th of April, including a date in Manchester’s Albert Hall on May 4th. Faulkner teased that he will be using a new “duel set up” in these shows in order to recreate tracks solo that were recorded with a whole band. He commented that although the loop pedal has its place, he himself is much more a “one-man band” instead of “one of the loopy people”. Performing is his motivation for being in the business, stating that “Live is why I record”. Faulkner definitely seems keen to share new material in a live context.

The ‘…So Far’ in his new album’s title implies more to come from Faulkner. The three new tracks are a hint of a fresh style with an eighth album “in the works” following his best of. ‘Don’t Leave Me Waiting’ is especially promising, a striking track that makes the most of Faulkner’s powerful vocals.

The decision to include covers is questionable in a best of, however Faulkner’s stylings on these songs are an entraining listen. He aimed to make other artists tracks “sound as cool as possible” and is partially successful with this. Ultimately though there’s only so much merit in covering other artists work and you would expect more from such an experienced musician.

The new album is out March 15th and is worth the purchase if you are a fan of Faulkner. It is a nostalgic experience and certainly enjoyable to re-listen to songs from across the years. Hits like ‘Dream Catch Me’ and ‘Write It On Your Skin’ have more than retained their charm. Beyond that you cannot expect much more. The covers and new tracks are a welcome bonus, but the album is limited to its nature of being a “best of”.

7/10

Tags: american idiot, artist interview, folk music, Manchester Albert Hall, Newton Faulker, pop music

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