Sydney’s Sam Newton released his crowdfunded debut album a few months ago and it’s an accomplished collection of beautifully played and recorded songs that shows Newton’s wistful way with folk and sometimes country melodies.
There’s an ornate quality to many of Newton’s songs with strings, piano and a number of other instruments all playing their part in creating the record’s mood and atmosphere. The title track in particular runs the gamut of swelling orchestrated folk through to almost baroque pop and it works. Newton’s Australian accent and touches like birdsong ground the music in its local environment and he balances parochial honesty with Americana musical formats nicely, never overdoing it. What makes this album work is the blending of traditional instrumentation in contemporary arrangements and composition. Bon Iver, Grizzly Bear and Iron & Wine are touchstones that inhabit the dreamier, art-folk corners of this album as effectively as Johnny Cash does on the brisk shuffle and rock n roll clatter of ‘Sense of Space’.
Set In Stone is the result of an adventurous musical mind set on creating both free-wheelin’ and carefully constructed and detailed songs. It’s indulgent, confident, and both playful and soul-searching. A complex affair, it’ll be interesting to hear where Newton’s muse guides him next.