this page updated 22 March 2009
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& catalogue details
"This album, ostensibly Mark's "comeback" after a few years away from the scene, contains some tremendously scintillating (acoustic) guitar playing and some pretty decent singing, and has classy, state-of-the-art production values. It will probably not reach the audiences it deserves, however, which would be a shame; let's hope that this review whets your appetite sufficiently to want to investigate, then. Lest you be wondering already: yes, Mark's the brother of that indecently talented instrumentalist Chris Newman (long-term touring partner of amazing harpist Máire Ní Chathasaigh), so serious guitar skills are obviously in the genes, but there's also an equally high level of musicality at work in every note Mark plays. His solo work displays a truly breathtaking technique, sure, but that's not the whole story, for it's paying the highest tribute to Mark that you're actually drawn in to his playing at the level of satisfying listening too. The tunes are predominantly traditional in origin, but without exception they're tackled with acute sensitivity and imagination (for a sample, just marvel at what Mark does with the hoary old Maire's Wedding track 12 followed by a Clumsy Lover that sounds anything but!), Mark also providing illuminating and informative notes on both the sources and his own approach and playing methods. Stories sensibly alternates songs with instrumentals, so that neither category suffers by comparison. Mark's renditions of the songs are styled very much in the laid-back bluesy, country-bluesy Wizz Jones mould, with typically understated delivery, and the material ranges from Norman Blake and Happy Traum to John Sebastian (hence the album's title), topped up with one of Mark's own (late 60s) compositions. Brother Chris (who also produced and arranged the album, incidentally) helps out on most of the vocal tracks with guitar, bass or octave mandolin as required, but, ever mindful that the album is after all Mark's showcase, leaves Mark to his own devices on the instrumentals, where he just occasionally (though to good effect) indulges in some considerate double-tracking (though Mark's creative version of John D. Loudermilk's Windy And Warm achieves an intriguingly mellifluous twelve-string sound out of two of his own guitars!). The only small reservation I have about the album is that there seems to be a touch too much reverb at times, noticeably on Mark's vocals but that's a minor quibble when set against the abundance of really excellent musicianship here."
good guitarist...choice of songs fits his voice beautifully...brilliant!"
"...the playing is
"Mark's guitar technique is superb...I can recommend his latest CD, which includes some beuatiful renditions of traditional tunes."
Newman is een Britse zanger/gitarist die qua spel (een mengeling van folk, jazz, blues en
klassiek) associaties oproept met Davey Graham. Stories is de eerste plaat na
een stilte van enkele jaren, bevat een prettige mix van traditioneel en hedendags
materiaal. Liedjes worden afgewis-seld met instrumentaal werk. Newman toont zich daarbij
een technisch bijzonder begaafd gitarist. Zijn zangstem is vriendelijk en niet erg
krachtig en wordt wellicht om die reden soms wat hinderlijk voorzien van galm, een
minpuntje. Het hedendaagse materiaal komt onder andere van Norman Blake, Kathryn Tickell
en John Sebastian. Broer Chris Newman produceerde en arrangeerde de plaat,
assisteerde ook muzikaal op gitaar, bas en mandoline. De plat klinkt
relaxed bluesy. Met vakman-schap gemaakt."
|She moves through the Fair/Paddy Flaherty's|
|The Curragh of Kildare/Nan Cammaerts/Kitty in the Kitchen|
|The Blackbird/The Tadpole|
|Our Kate/Rothbury Road|
|Deep River Blues|
|The Banks of the Bann/Slane/Past Three o'clock|
|Windy and Warm|
|Mairi's Wedding/The Clumsy Lover|
|The Stories We Can Tell|
|Catalogue details||Green Opal GOCD101, 2002|
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PO Box 7, Ilkley, West Yorkshire, LS29 9RY, UK
Tel: +44 (0)1943 602203 Fax: +44 (0)1943 435472