Newton Faulkner: Hand Built By Robots


Newton Faulkner’s “Hand Built By Robots” is familiar like a comfortable blanket…it doesn’t exactly push into new territory, but at the same time, listening to it is like putting on a favorite college CD: it’s good to hear it again after all these years.  Odd stuff for the US debut album from a relative musical neophyte (though age doesn’t matter, he’s only 23).  And yet – that’s the feel of the album. 

The lyrics aren’t groundbreaking, but neither are they disappointing.  They rarely take a turn toward anything but the upbeat, and the overall poppy, sunny flavor of his music has made him a hit in the surfing community (despite the oft-reported fact that he doesn’t surf).

For this reviewer, the album calls up hints of Guster, tastes of Lowen and Navarro, a smattering of Devendra Banhart, and the odd piece of David Gray.  It is folksy yet completely pop-accessible, with beautiful vocals and catchy hooks, and it feels like something I’ve been listening to for years (doesn’t hurt that it includes a very folky cover of Massive Attack’s Teardrops – which I actually have been listening to for years…).  Groundbreaking?  No.  But a great album with which to accompany a summer barbeque & a few beers?  Absolutely.

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