Newton Faulkner, the singer-songwriter from Surrey, is probably best known for his iconic fiery dreadlocks and his laid-back acoustic style. Once pegged the “Jack Johnson of the UK”, it’s difficult to believe it’s been a whopping ten years since he came onto the UK music scene, capturing a generation of folk-pop lovers and topping the charts with his debut album Hand Built by Robots, which spawned the no.7 hit Dream Catch Me. He topped the album charts once more in 2012 with Write it on Your Skin and has had a fantastic career of touring, penning music, and playing UK festivals for the last decade, picking up a modest but loyal fan base along the way.
2015 saw both his music and his personal image take a new direction with his 5th studio album, Human Love. Taking the scissors to his trademark dreadlocks in a music video, it felt like a symbolic break away from the old Faulkner. Featuring richly layered and beat-heavy tracks like Up, Up and Away and Far to Fall, Human Love played around with African drumming sounds, infectious rhythm and vibrant chanted vocals.
Two years on, his newest release Hit the Ground Running seems like a return to his classic acoustic folk roots. Opening track Smoked Ice Cream is charmingly optimistic, with an empowering chorus, even if the title remains slightly mysterious. Title track Hit the Ground Running shows off Faulkner’s impressive vocal range over stripped down guitar beats. The bluesy Finger Tips hits a more solemn note and the lyrics will no doubt be emotionally moving when played live. It’s a well-rounded and mature album which shows off what Faulkner has learnt over these ten years, while also combining it with the raw talent of his early work.
This year’s tour has seen him hit venues all over Europe, before returning to the UK to play Edinburgh, Manchester, Bristol and everywhere in between. He’ll surely receive a warm welcome next week when he comes back to Exeter’s Lemon Grove on the 26th November for the first time in almost 2 years. It can be confirmed, via his twitter accounts, that his pineapple shaped do will also return with him. Faulkner will likely play a blend of his best-loved favourites from his 6 album discography, such as Teardrop, Clouds and Write it on Your Skin, combined with fresh material to delight both enduring fans and newcomers to his music.
Anyone who has seen Faulkner perform live can confirm what an uplifting and enjoyable experience it can be. His shows are fun, relaxed and occasionally feature a fantastic cover of the Spongebob square-pants theme tune complete with swashbuckling pirate accent. On a more serious note, he always comes across as just a genuine, laidback guy with an amazing talent and passion for creating music. You get the feeling Faulkner would be strumming and rhythmically tapping his guitar, accompanying it with his effortless husky vocals, whether hundreds of people were watching or not.
– Sarah Roberts
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