Label: STRANGE ATTRACTORS AUDIO HOUSE
Format: Vinyl LP
"Of the players involved in the recent resurgence of fingerstyle guitar, Harris Newman has established himself as a primary envoy on the modern day steel-stringer shortlist. As with the case of his brothers-in-arms Jack Rose, Glenn Jones and Steffen Basho-Junghans, each of whom borrow from the past traditions of mavericks Fahey, Basho et al but have re-invented the sound and style with fresh perspectives, Newman distinguishes his music even further with a very idiosyncratic sound. In contrast to the name of the album, Harris Newman opts for a somewhat stripped-down, almost minimalist approach to Decorated. Subtle and introspective, the first half of the album showcases Newman's brand of solo acoustic guitar. Mood and color take precedence, as Newman's fingerpicking weaves tonal spirals across each composition. Melodies bob and weave from alternate pacing, balanced between space and sound like strands of tinsel clinging to a tree. Marking a stylistic turning point in the album, 'Blues for Vilhelm' is a humming incantation for lapsteel guitar, a minimalist sound pool rippling ever outwards. Following with the languid improvisation 'Golden Valleys as Seen From the East,' Newman stretches out and explores intoxicating themes, coaxing out melodies which quickly blossom and decay in slowly unfurling spools. Newman picks up the electric guitar with 'Thee Opera House Stomp,' and backed by the forward momentum of drummer Eric Craven, the song embarks from a country-blues riff headlong into serpentine trajectory reminiscent of the arty twang of Gastr del Sol. Extracting elements of folk and blues and exposing it bare, Harris Newman dresses up his music in cinematic, post-rock attire. Decorated is accessible solo guitar music for the experimentally-minded, a meditative electro-acoustic melding of Leo Kottke and Jim O'Rourke, illustrating why Newman's own take on the tradition sets him apart from the pack."