John Newman, Revolve

For a man whose debut album was entitled Tribute and owed much to classic soul, John Newman’s sound is very much rooted in the present.
Sure, his influences are easy to identify: even if he hadn’t talked about it much in interviews, the 25-year-old Yorkshireman’s love of Northern Soul could have been spotted by anyone with even a passing interest in the genre.
He’s got the voice to carry it, too. Powerful, expressive and clear, he rarely resorts to unnecessary vocal gymnastics but isn’t afraid to go all Aretha when the need arises.
So far, so timeless – but it’s what goes on behind his voice that gives the time game away. Tight and slick, it sticks to pop 2015’s cardinal rule of always giving the listener something to focus on, from breakdowns everywhere to parping horns throughout.
That’s not to say that Revolve isn’t enjoyable, because it absolutely is, but Newman should be aware that when pop sounds super-modern one day it often sounds super-dated the next.
A touch more variety wouldn’t have gone amiss, either – with the exception of big ballad I’m Not Your Man and the spoken word title track (voiced by Idris Elba), Revolve feels a little like listening to one long song.
Like this? Try these: Rudimental, Home; Paloma Faith, A Perfect Contradiction

By Andrew Greenhalgh


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