With the release of his debut album ‘Hand Built by Robots’, musician and song-writer Newton Faulkner wowed audiences with his wonderful song-writing style, and incredibly complex yet elegant guitar style. Now on his fourth album, titled ‘Studio Zoo’, Faulkner continues to construct complex guitar rhythms that accompany his bittersweet or amusing songs. ‘Studio Zoo’ is full of the typical melodies and vocal style that has made up the rest of Faulkner’s previous works to date, and thus is a fairly enjoyable and amusing record. It is marred by the one or two nagging negative traits that seem to drag the overall impact of the album down.
‘Studio Zoo’ contains some of Faulkner’s most interesting work, which is surrounded by a very interesting concept in terms of recording and presentation. The album featured a 24 hour live-stream of the recording process, which showed every step of the recording of the album. It’s highly entertaining to see the album begin in its infancy, and progress and evolve into the full album. The album itself features many of Faulkner’s signature guitar styles and his ever improving vocals. There’s some truly wonderful moments on the album that just goes to show how much Faulkner has progressed since his debut effort, and how the song-writer is still able to produce interesting instrumentals to accompany his own vocal style.
As interesting as ‘Studio Zoo’ is, I find it just to be a bit too gimmicky to be taken seriously as an album. A lot of the tracks are interesting, but it feels like each and every technique used is simply what we’ve heard from Newton Faulkner too many times before, and although he is an accomplished guitarist, he just needs to do something new. Even the live-streaming of the album seems like one big gimmick, which is certainly interesting to loyal fans, but I imagine there’d be few people committed to spending that much time sat in front of the computer watching Faulkner attempt to record his various songs. It’s certainly a interesting idea, as it’s not really been used before, but I find it’s a gimmick that actually overshadows the album’s material, which leaves ‘Studio Zoo’ sounding a bit dull.
I find ‘Studio Zoo’ to be a rather disappointing album. It’s not that it’s a terrible and atrocious album, but rather that there’s nothing new being offered by Faulkner, and thus the album’s material just sounds like a re-hashing of all of his previous ideas. On his fourth album, I’d have thought Faulkner would be moving on to a new chapter, progressing his scope as a brilliant musician and song-writer and offering something completely new and unexpected. ‘Studio Zoo’ is simply a rather typical album that has a much more interesting idea behind it than the album has itself. It’s not Faulkner’s best, and thus it is simply a disappointing effort.
- ★★★☆☆ 3/5
- Treading Water
- At The Seams
- Waiting On You
- Orange Skies
Newton Faulkner’s fourth studio album ‘Studio Zoo’ is out now.