The term singer/songwriter is thrown around so much these days it’s hard to tell any old solo musician apart, particularly those comprising of a man and his guitar. Stuart Newman though has tried to alter this cliché of the singer/songwriter by not sounding like a cheap imitation of Get Cape. Wear Cape. Fly or Newton Faulkner but instead using as many techniques as possible to break away from these artists.
The main similarity to any band/artist for Stuart Newman has to be Eels. As soon as the opening track ’51st State’ begins with the acoustic guitar and eerie vocals that seem to have been churned through a mixing desk there is an instant comparison, which isn’t a bad thing – on the other hand there is a slight similarity to Leonard Cohen which isn’t as ‘cool’.
The music in itself is very much alternative, none of the songs follow the same structure or style, instead each one tries to be unique in its own way in order to be remembered. Which is one of the flaws with the album, remembrance. The album is far too short, Newman manages to cram 14 songs into half an hour which seems like the whole thing was a bit rushed.
Out of the 14 tracks in this half hour there are a handful of quite charming and interesting songs. ‘Gotta Work’ and ‘Cry Wolf’ showcase Newman’s vocal ability and guitar skills incredibly; also props are in order for mentioning Bill Hicks in the chorus to ‘Oscar’. His tribute to Nirvana is very much tongue-in-cheek and is more of a dodgy Kurt Cobain impression than a song, which is a little saddening as it could be so much more.
The album on a whole though is definitely worth a listen, even just to kill half an hour with something different. The alternative and overall chilled out aspect of the album can leave you either in the mood to listen to Susan’s House or just leave you slightly bemused. For those people who love those ‘one man and his guitar’ artists, check Stuart Newman out. You just might like him.
You can listen to the album in full on his LastFM page here: http://www.last.fm/music/Stuart+Newman/Single+But+Defective
What do you think to the album?