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rebuilt by humans
Hit and miss second serving from English minstrel
Francis Jones, 19 Oct 2009
Back in 2007, Newton Faulkner’s debut Built By Robots saw him proclaimed as the ‘British Jack Johnson’. As if that were something the world needed. Like the Hawaiian, Faulkner knows how to conjure up a laid back melody. He’s also a dextrous guitar player, a point that first album overemphasised.
On Rebuilt By Humans the technique is put more fully in service of the tunes. A magnificent love song composed of tender guitar and electronic squiggles, ‘Resin On My Heart Strings’ is an early indication of his newly cultivated ability. That such quality craftsmanship can sit alongside the quasi-reggae dross of ‘Lipstick Jungle’, however, says much about the fluctuating quality levels to be found here. Generally, Faulkner seems to excel at the more ruminative and tender songs: ‘Been Thinking About It’ is direct and affecting, ‘I’m Not Giving Up Yet’ gently encouraging.
It’s when Faulkner leaves this sheltered port that his songwriting hits the rocks. ‘Let’s Get Together’ attempts to add a dash of Herb Alpert playfulness with questionable results, whilst ‘First Time’ and ‘Over And Out’ ladle on the melodrama. The lyrics vary, too, from the appealingly unadorned to the frankly trite – ‘Badman’, for example, sounds like the musings of Swampy the eco warrior. Still, there’s enough quality songwriting on show to suggest Faulkner is a talent worth keeping tabs on.