CD: Newton Faulkner, Hand Built by Robots

The dreadlocked guitar ace has made an excellent upbeat summer soundtrack, says Molloy Woodcraft

Things are on the up for guitar-toting Surrey songster Newton Faulkner. After his first, self-published EP sold out its run of 3,000 copies last year without any promotion he was swiftly signed, and his star continues to rise. It's not just the gingery dreadlocks and beard that have seen the 22-year-old embraced by the surfers of the south west; his debut album is a definite candidate for soundtrack to the summer.

Faulkner is an absolute guitar ace, whose pretty harmonics and folky runs are more what you'd expect from someone twice his age. These flash techniques marry with minimal percussion and hand drums over the 17 tracks here. 'Intro' and first song proper 'To the Light' remind me of several things: the guitar nous of Isaac Guillory or early Joan Armatrading; the laid-back vocals of Jay Kay mixed with a shot of Damien Rice; and the sunshine of Jack Johnson or Bill Withers.

Things remain resolutely up-beat and major key throughout the album's short 44 minutes; some tracks are just jottings, others head into more complex territory (the Pink Floyd-meets-Crowded House progressions of 'Straight Towards the Sun'). Faulkner's high rasp and falsetto come into their own on tracks such as the single 'Dream Catch Me' and there's catchy fun to be had in the reggae lilt of 'People Should Smile More'.

Download: 'Dream Catch Me'; 'Straight Towards the Sun'

Contributor

Molloy Woodcraft

The GuardianTramp

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