Human Love, Newton Faulkner’s 5th album seems like it wants to be a major departure from his earlier work. Indeed the folksy singer-songwriter has even undergone a haircut, losing his signature locks for his new video ‘Get Free’. If Newton Faulkner wished to convey a message of development through doing this, then it’s a shame that Human Love suffers from staggeringly boring and standard songs.
Human Love starts off relatively strong with ‘Get Free’, which combines layered vocals, a minimalist guitar track and thumping drums to great effect. After this though the unique qualities of ‘Get Free’ are hard to find, with tracks such as ‘Up Up And Away’ and ‘Passing Planes’ feeling out of place within the album. The songs are over produced and the generalised pop sound that Faulkner is going for quickly wears thin. In fact the compositions themselves are fairly standard, utilising pop structures, melodies and harmonies that sound familiar, but ultimately very boring.
There are some standout tracks including ‘Stay’ and ‘Take’ feat. Tessa Rose, ‘Can I Be Enough’ and ‘Break’. ‘Stay and Take’ has a fantastic rhythm that’s accompanied by muted guitar and heavy but slight drums. ‘Can I Be Enough’ seems like a strange mixture of early Beck, Wilco and Bon Iver, the song playing to the strengths of Faulkner’s guitar playing as he layers multiple acoustic parts over each other. ‘Break’ is simply Faulkner at his best as he emotionally charges through the lovelorn song, accompanied only by his guitar. It’s tearful stuff, openly honest and forlorn, signalling his strength as a songwriter. Unfortunately the majority of the album never reaches this height and is instead satisfying but underwhelming.