Love Me Again
A refreshing change: a voice you can't readily compare to an existing artist. Should the young man's ambition be fully-realised; he could make serious waves.
Love Me Again is available at:
Love Me Again E.P. is available at:
THE male voice, or 'instrument' as it is often referred to as by the....
music media, is something that often fails to impress. The state and health of the beast is rather grim: sallow of skin; a pale counternance, and a weakening of the limbs, which has seen it being looked at with worried eyes. Previous generations have been little-concerned with trying to emulate their idols too closely. From the '60s onwards, the greatest acts, as well as new music would sometimes stray into too-familar waters. Even as recently as last decade, many new acts have tried to enforce their own tones and make their own moves- which has helped make their music seem fresh. Something happened in the last 10 years or so, which has caused chagrin and heartache for me. As someone practically obsessed with the voice, and all that it can acheive, it has been especially alarming: where is the originality? In Lullaby, Chuck Palahniuk stated that "Anymore, no one's mind is their own". Coco Chanell said thus: "Only those with no memory insist on their originality". In literature, film and theatre it is a lot easier to have a unique voice. Personal experience, as well as imagination dictates themes and stories; and there is so much scope and range that very few examples occur where you can accuse an authour of aping someone else (too closely). I am not sure why music is not able to comply to the same standards. Every new solo act or band that comes along, with some excpetions, seem to be too concerned with trying to sound like someone else. The fickle and hysterical media do not help the issue, mind. When a brand new star comes forth, there is an instant need for them to label and compare: attest that the voice and sound you hear is 'The Next...'. Subsequently, there are very few artists today that you can original, or be inspired by- knowing that they have taken steps to be different from the rest. In a way the style of voice or sound you adapt, is negated and influenced by your idols and favourite music. The current generation tend to have a fairly short attention-span. What is new and current (or a few years old) seems to be in the minds of most; which means that you tend to hear a lot of very familiar music. If I hear of one more band being compared to Arctic Monkeys I may just give up completley. Similarly if a male voice is (lazily and incorrectly) labelled as 'The Next Jeff Buckley' I will kill the journalist whom wrote it. As well as the media being too quick to unfairly elevate new artists and stroke ego, a simulatenous burgeoniung of new moves and thoughts are present. The male voice is probably more to blame than the female one. For the female singer, there seems to be a bit more mobility (although there are too many Christina Aguilera/Adele wannabes). Although there are fewer solo artists and bands, there is less homogenisation. Current talent is tasked with inspiring the next generation, and are responsible for trying to dissprove the theory, that the best music we have ever heard, has already past. With so much reference, technology and potential available to the sapling musician, there is little excuse for dropping the ball; playing it safe, or ripping someone else off.
John Newman is a 23-year-old, but seems to have understood the importance of showing some insight. His voice and sound has been labelled as a force of nature; many have projected Newman as a larger-than-life figure. There may be some truth to this. As well as designing his own clothes, writing his songs, and scripting his music videos, he is a U.K. version of will.i.am. Although Newman is very likeable, where as will.i.am is an odious tit who is possible one of the biggest jokes in the music industry. Newman has spent the past year writing material and touring, Love Me Again is the summation of a lot of hard work and determination. Newman was born in North Yorkshire, in a household that was awash with soul and Motown sounds: something rare in '90s Yorkshire. Whereas most of his friends would be listening to modern music, Grunge and britpop, Newman was experiencing and being exposed to a lot of sounds from '70s and '80s Detroit, as well as the '60s and '70s U.S. soul movements. A lot of Diana Ross and James Brown were heard, but Newman- into his teenage years- exposed himself to the likes of Damien Rice. Having built a makehsift D.I.Y. studio in his house, he began toying with what he could acheive as a musician, and making his first steps. Newman eventually moved to London, on the back of some personal dislocation and tragedy; determined to start again and acheive what he had wanted since childhood. Amongst the bustle of the capital, he was subjected to some exciting local music, and built up some great contacts. Newman dislikes silence; he feels least alone when there is sound and music, and this is represented in his music, which is bursting with life and energy. Having overcome a fair few roadblocks and personal setbacks, the young artist has come a long way, and acheived a great deal given his 23 years. It is the background of soul music and Motown blitz, that has set Newman apart. Where as a lot of young talent listen to more modern sounds, or very obvious artists; their style tends to mimick that. Beacause of the proliferation of black U.S. music, Newman has arrived off of the back of a rare and fascinating upbringing. Very few solo artists cite Otis Redding and Marvin Gaye as influences: some of the young black soul artists do, but very few white artists. They are artists whom have inspired generations and are as relevant today as they have always been. By unintentionally rebelling against cliche convention, and embracing a style of music that is under-used and under-valued in 2013, Newman is already a step ahead of his contemporaries.
You can tell from Love Me Again, that a great deal of attention has been paid to every note and sound. The track is chocked full of detail and style, and seems axiomatic, given the dilligence Newman has paid to music. The furtive notes of the song build off of the back of brooding atmopshere. Electric low rumblings strike and grumble stoutly, summoning up gravity and potency. As the tension mount, and electric guitar sounds rise and layer the atmopshere with uncertainity, there is a palable sense of anxiety and unnerve. By the time Newman's vocal arrives, there has been little chance to consider which direction the song will travel in. His voice initially is spiky and hard-hitting: evocations of modern grime and R 'n' B artists. Although galvanised with soulful edges, there is a forceful punch to the voice. His words, early on, speak of wrong-doing and confession: "I done wrong", it is stated; our protagnosist asking whether this is something a devil would do, as "I shook the angel in you". In spite of some early doubts and frank admissions, the tone changes to something more motivated and reinforced; as our hero has risen above the crowd, his mandate very much cemented: "Nothing I can't do". Fron 0:42 on, there are classic strings unleashes, which come in hard and passionate; they transform into funky disco/funk guitar sparks; in turn they are punctuated by a drum thud- they perform a brief call-and-response dance with one another. Newman's voice is reinvigorated and augmented following the short musical coda; filled with full-bloodied belt and dripping with soul: signs of Redding's gravelled edge, and Simone's striking power marry one another seemlessly. Our protagnosist needs to know "Can you love me again?"; this question is posed again and again, imploring (to an unnamed beau) whether trust can be restored, and whether paramour can be resestablished. In spite of the- perhaps anxiety-filled- decelerations, the mood is jubilant and dancing. The music bursts into life, and a clash and fire of upbeat swing is unleashed; subtle blasts of horn and persuassive percussive edges give the chorus a Motown feel- one that is very much tailor-made for today. Whilst the questions seems to need an answer, in order for our protagonist to be contented, there is no sign of torment or fear. He struts and extrovertley decalres his words, accompanied by an infectious beacking; before stepping aside momentarily, and letting the music do a little talking. Knowing that the verse packs an emotional and authoriative weight, it is employed again, as the chorus comes back in. It is an effective deployment, as additional words or deviation would seem unfocused. The remorseful tone of the verse, speaking of demons and heartbreak, is juxtoposed by the redemptive positivity of the chorus. By the 2/3 mark, the tone and pace changes. A brief calm arrives, with muted horns and percussion keeping the ears strained, before a vocal explossion arrives. Our protaganist is empassioned and shouts- soulfully, mind: "Do this again". Unusually for my ears, and for the 2nd time in two days, I hear a little bit of Ride on Time by Black Box. It remains one of my all-time favourite songs, and the piano roll that is ellicited bears some ressemblance, that will make late-'80s/early-'90s folk such as me, smile. As we go back into the chorus, this '90s dance tone, combined with the soul flavours, creates an intoxicating blend. The video to the song has warrnted some speculation and controversy. It features Newman in a music hall or northern club, on stage, performing the song. A band backs him as revellers; fresh-faced dancers, twirl and jump to the song. Its two leads, a rather cool-looking guys and a very gorgeous girl (whom alone has got as much YouTube love as the song itself), flirt; kiss and, well... are mown down by a van in the final seconds. There is personal relevance and backstory to the ending of the video, which has courted some disgruntled feedback. Newman is not a man whom shies away from boldness and personal projection, and is a worthy accessory to the track itself.
As much as I have been bellying the lack of quality and uniqueness amongst the young musicians of the U.K., I have at least been given some respite today. Newman is a new name to my mind and ears, yet has provided me with fresh impetuts and inspiration. As someone obsessed with the voice and the potency that can be delivered, Newman's voice is something quite startling. Draped in golden velvet, as well as posessed with huge power, he is every inch a modern soul icon. I can detect some feint hints of Redding and Franklin, mingling alongside one another. One can see shades of Damien Rice as well as Paolo Nutini (he shares the duo's grizzled romanticism). Similarly, and like Nutini, our young hero has a knack of injecting joyous musical evocations into the mix; breathless horn blasts and a good-time feel is the abiding flavour one tastes, long after the track has ended. He has quite a keen eye for lyrics, and economy as a songwriter. The verses are filled with biblical imagery, regretful confession, as well as open-heart honest. Very few would be able to take those themes: revocations and apologetic proferring, and pair that to a chorus, which is the emodiment of the upbeat and empassioned: there will be few other songs you will hear this year that will be as memorable. You find yourself singing the chorus after you have heard the song; being looked at like some kind of lunatics by passers-by. Given what I have read about John Newman: his personal health issues, self-contained demons, and struggles, he is deserving of attention and vast subscription. He is not a whiny X Factor cretin: all sob story and woe-is-me credulousness. Here is a young man whose objective is to make music, realise his dreams, and bring his sounds to the masses. A tumulteous and determined sky has been flown, and a smooth landing acheived. It is early days for sure, but being someone who- all modesty aside- knows his music, and knows a talent when he hears one; the man Newman will be in much demand in the future. On Facebook, Newman attests that more songs are in the pipeline, and his creative mind has been working overtime; in order to capitlitse on Love Me Again's impressive clout. I can well see an aolbum's worth of material in the opffing, but should an E.P. be seen as the best logical next step, I will be fascinated to see what sounds and moves he makes. Pious broadhseet ediors, 'trendy' music magazines, as well as the hardcore music lover will take a lot away from Love Me Again, and Newman's path to the here and now. He himself says: "When it's silent I think too much". Good news:
HE won't have time to think too much, probably for the next decade or so. ________________________________________________________________________