Stuart Newman - Single But Defective

Beckie Jordan 07/09/2008

Rating: 4/5

21-year old Stuart Newman is something of an oddity. His music doesn't fit into neatly packaged boxes, ready for mass consumption. It sits, in a corner, unassuming, quietly biding its time. This is not to say however, that Newman's work is under-par.

Single But Defective is an intriguing album, with Newman sometimes underplaying his abilities as a writer and musician. 51st State is a haunting portrayal of war, politics and society neatly combined with melodic guitar rifts and vocals to match. Other tracks of note include Oil; a brooding take on the current war in Iraq, with floaty beats and vocals. Cry Wolf is more upbeat, with Newman's trademark guitar playing, unnerving vocal style and writing skills fully absorbed by the listener. If you Say has a calming, folk tinge to it, breaking up the political commentary briefly.

On Sabbatical again features the eerie vocal stylings of a musing young man, complemented by beautiful acoustic playing. Gotta Work is a despondent tale of work related woe and misfortune set to tuneful guitar playing and vocals.

It is clear to see that Newman is influenced by the likes of Leonard Cohen, Elliot Smith and Willy Mason, but this album is far from just a homage to his heroes. Newman's writing is philosophical and enlightened, covering subject matters some would just brush aside. However, covering current issues such as war, politics and society, Newman could fall foul of the cliche trap if he doesn't keep himself on his toes.

All in all, Single But Defective is an absorbing and titillating album, which gives us the promise of greater things to come.