The end of a journey will always tell you something . Whether or not that something is “get back to the fucking drawing board and stop wasting my time” this album has yet reveal. According to the tracks available on his website though, it probably won’t be that.
The album like many by underground performers gives us glimpses of the artist discovering his style and his voice. Going from the raw simplicity of their early work using a solitary guitar and an early draft of their voice while slowly adding layers of production, melody and instrumental experimentation. There is something odd about this one though. It seems Stewart instead of building upon a solid foundation, he starts out with the finished product and slowly throughout the selected tracks, takes these elements away. He is stripping down the complexity of the music until only the bare bones show. What we have here is a journey in reverse. He starts out with the end and takes y0u back the beginning, with just his voice, his guitar and his emotions.
It takes a great deal of bravery to start out with your most accomplished piece and take it down from there. It shows an immense confidence in an artist clearly presenting an unedited version of himself for the world to judge. It’s this level of exposure that draws you in. Stewart isn’t so much stripped down to the skin as much as he’s gone beyond the skin and is down to his raw nerves. You add this in with the echoing production and you have an album that to listen to is a deeply personal experience. He takes you on a voyage though his mind and his emotions. It’s as if it was recorded inside his own head.
A great example of this is “The Decade” a love song to the 60’s where he sings about his greatest influences and takes you though the songs and albums that shaped him as a songwriter. Usually tracks with such an indulgent theme can come off sounding cheesy and sentimental. But with Newman they sound wholly genuine. He isn’t just name dropping The Bealtes for a cheap shot at musical credibility. His melodies and tunes show that he understands their simplicity, what made them such a great band, but he never sounds like anything other than Stewart Newman never sacrificing his uniqueness for vain attempt at sounding like Lennon or McCartney.
This is a promising glimpse at an album made by a man who has no eye on public opinion, no desire to seem fashionable or to hold back the music stirring his soul. While it may never bother the top ten charts it most certainly will move any one who decides to give it a try. Stewart Newman may never be popular, I think his music is too far removed from the mainstream scene for that, he will hold a special place for anyone who accepts the invitation to take the journey inside his head.
You can find his music here http://www.stuartnewmanmusic.com/fr_home.cfm