Newman - Guitar, Lapsteel
Track Listing: The Butcher's Block - Cloud City - Continental Drift - It's a Trap (Part I) - Lake Shore Drive - A Thousand Stolen Blankets to Keep You Warm at Night - Lords & Ladies - Out of Sorts - It's a Trap (Part II) - Accidents - Stopgap Measure - Driving All Night with Only My Mind
It is not unusual for the world-beating Montreal, Canada underground music scene to gestate and nurture a genre-bending artist of Harris Newman's caliber. Yet Newman's unique approach to the compositional acoustic steel-string style sets him apart from the herd, both in his hometown and far beyond. A veteran of the Montreal music community for some time, as a member of the bands Sackville (Constellation Records) and Esmerine (Resonant), Newman shot into the ranks of the new folk movement with the release of his well-received debut Non-Sequiturs (Strange Attractors, 2003). Intuitively melding sunny, "Fahey-esque" acoustic ditties with experimental sonics, Non-Sequiturs was a breath of fresh air. Come to find that Newman was merely hinting at grander things to come. Accidents with Nature and Each Other is a tremendous leap forward for Newman, a remarkable adaptation of his impeccable Takoma-esque fingerstyle into broader regions of harmonic complexity, texture and structure.
Newman's strengths lie in his dexterous ability to borrow from the traditions of the steel string guitar movement while propelling it forward into postmodern realms. Accidents with Nature and Each Other has time-honored solo acoustic grandeur on full display, but Newman brings many more variables to the table. Experiments with the raw sounds of the naked steel string and a wider palette of instrumentation augment beautifully his particular brand of guitar soli. The result is a rather diverse array of sounds and structures, all centered on the acoustic guitar. Languid, gorgeous melodies and hefty fingerpicking workouts bump up against ghostly harmonics and acoustic drones. A trio of solo workouts mark the beginning of the album, harkening both the aggressive trajectory of Leo Kottke and pastoral terrain of Robbie Basho…after that, all bets are off. Newman's unorthodox lapsteel playing paints eerie landscapes on "It's a Trap (Part I)", flowing into "Lake Shore Drive", a deep and dreamy pool of color made vibrant by contributions from Sandro Perri (Polmo Polpo) and Bruce Cawdron (Godspeed You! Black Emperor). Vast expanses of Ry Cooder's lonesome Americana brush up with harmonic drone on "A Thousand Stolen Blankets…", Sandy Bull/Billy Higgins-style of jazzy raga meet acoustic post-rock with "Lords & Ladies", and opiated lounge melds with a Twin Peaks vibe on "Driving All Night With Only My Mind".
Today's avant folk movement has found a fresh new vision from the heart, soul and fingers of Harris Newman. Accidents with Nature and Each Other is simply a jaw-dropping sophomore effort of forward-thinking solo acoustic music - with Fahey squarely in the rear view mirror.