Hand Built By Robots review by Newton Faulkner

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  • Released: Jul 23, 2007
  • Sound: 9
  • Lyrics: 9
  • Overall Impression: 9
  • Reviewer's score: 9 Superb
  • Users' score: 9.2 (42 votes)
Newton Faulkner: Hand Built By Robots

Sound — 9
I first heard about this album from Jo Wiley's sexy voiced and appraising TV advert about 6 months ago and I thought Well who can refuse that? So I didn't. I bought it on my next trip out, got it home, banged it on my computer and listened to it for a bit. I got bored very quickly and left it gathering hard drive dust for a few months. Then, a few weeks back, I came across it again and was completely blown away. I don't know what changed about my sensibilities or mood at the time but I now think him to be one of the most beautiful and clever singer/songwriter's there are. There is not only the obvious single material in Dream Catch Me is to be had here. Beautiful little hidden gems such as Gone in the Morning, which is deep syncopated voice incredible (an in-joke there, for listeners of the album), and UFO, which uses a Theremin for crying out loud, which don't make such an obvious poppy statement, but when you really listen you can sit back and think wowhe knows what he's doing! From his huge, sweeping songs to his snappy little numbers, the diversity from such a narrow origin, of a single acoustic guitar, is staggering. Not to mention the playing. Using finger picking, cross picking, classical picking, most types of picking really, popping a snare and bass beat on his guitar body, tapping all at the same time, in the same song. Enough said really. See him live for this! The one thing I would say was bad about the album is the few points at which it becomes slightly introspective and loses momentum a bit, namely with Sitar-Y Thing and Lullaby (forgivable seeing as it's the final track).

Lyrics — 9
From watching his live performances it is clear that many of his songs do have a meaning behind them lyrically. He loves the concept of dreams, the whole album possessing this quality of an invented reality, even making his few political statements (too much fighting, not enough peace/love etc.) he does it in a notably surreal way (e.g. what would and alien think if he saw this planet) which makes for some wondrous listening throughout. What's more is that the quality of the singing is just beautiful, every word is obvious and defined and the harmonies are just amazing. It may be the case that it's all a bit too weird for you but just open your mind to the oddness before shooing it.

Overall Impression — 9
Most people would make The Jack Johnson Comparison I won't. I won't simply because there isn't one. Not to Jack Johnson, not to most people. For one thing he beats JJ's summer afternoon drowsy rubbish off the radar, with his all year round, all round brilliance. For another, he is certainly one of the more uniquely styled player/singer/songwriter's you're likely to hear, with no one else quite like him. He's like a Frankenstein's Monster of the reasons music is good.

7 comments sorted by best / new / date

    Like priceless i too didn't really get into this at first.But i thought i'd give it another chance and i was utterly gobsmacked. Love it. totally brilliant. Not everyday that my wife and I agree on music!
    I have to agree with CaptainStephan and Priceless. I put it on my computer and got bored of it halfway through. About a year later I listened to it again and love it. Definitely one of those albums that with every listen, you hear something new.
    Saw him on the tonight show playing "Dream catch me". Totally awesome, even better than the music video.
    By the way, he is NOT better than Jack Johnson. Needs to work on consistency through the album.
    I saw newton faulkner at Glastonbury 2008 on the 'other stage'. as soon as he played the first notes of his "Intro" i was hooked. top artist with a real personality.
    i wish i could see him live. he's come to nz twice now this year but both in the north island. i agree, good album, but not consistent. and soloing may not be for newton faulkner, but it's not to many other great artists. just look at the foo fighters or biffy clyro.all great, but little or no solos. solos do not make great bands!
    I just completely agree with PricelessTwirp, I got the album and wasn't overly impressed with the material, but still put it on my iPod, but once the skip button was broken on my ipod and I was forced to listen to his addictive songs I got completely hooked with him