Boomkat Product Review:
Harris Newman has quite a CV: he seems to have a hand in just about every musical project to have come out of Montreal's alternative rock scene. Newman's early career was as a part of Constellation band Sackville, whilst more recently he's been playing alongside Godspeed! You Black Emperor's Bruce Cawdron as Triple Burner, in addition to popping up as a guest musician on records by Esmerine and Hrsta. Further to that, Newman is the resident mastering engineer for bands as diverse as Wolf Parade and A Silver Mount Zion. Given the pedigree both as performer and studio boffin, you can reasonably expect Decorated, Newman's Fahey-influenced instrumental guitar album, to sound pretty darn great, and it's certainly beautifully recorded. Newman's fingerpicking technique isn't necessarily comparable to the rolling fluency of a Jack Rose or James Blackshaw, but he does romp through some inventive bluegrass figures, and in terms of both composition and sequencing Decorated is right up there with the best solo acoustic works from any contemporary artist. The key to this album's success is the fact that Newman doesn't rely on any single approach to songwriting, with the second half of the record transmitting bowed drone textures and electrified boogie-woogie complete with hard rocking drums. It's always going to be a bit of an uphill struggle for Takoma-inspired musicians to keep reinventing the acoustic guitar album, but Harris Newman does plenty to win you over.