Stare Into The Dark
Sometimes exactly what you want is a songwriter that is dialing it right back. Across three albums Australian singer/songwriter Sam Newton has been exploring that concept. Here with his latest it is almost entirely about ‘the song’.
Sure he has a pleasant voice – he summons the requisite vulnerability, heartbreak, and in fact a range of emotions. He’s a competent player, there are some lovely textures to support these songs, nice ideas from great players – brushed drums, weeping guitars, anchoring piano lines that seem to have been borrowed from any number of Cold Chisel or Paul Kelly songs…
But it’s about the songs. These musical ideas are all in support of the contemplative songs that Sam Newton pulls from his soul.
Country tinges drip from these songs. But Newton’s voice is without affectation – it’s a pure singer standing up to speak candidly from and about the soul.
These are night-time sketches, the album’s and title and overall gentle nature reminding us of that – where Jo Meares might pull from the dark night of the soul, Sam Newton is more contemplative, calm and thoughtful and sure of the musical accompaniment that allows him to drape these shade-cloth songs over subtly built moods.
When The Blues Come Around, Lullaby In The Key of Relief, Looking for Answers, Mountain, Stare Into The Dark, A Meaning For Living – it’s pretty clear that Newton is asking some big questions, but he avoids cliché in both his lyric writing and vocal phrasing. It’s a subtly crafted set of songs. It rewards over several listens.