Album: Hit The Ground Running
Label: Self Released
This is the sixth album from the English born multi-instrumentalist and song writer Sam Newton Battenberg Faulkner. Well known for his percussive style of acoustic guitar playing, ‘Hit the Ground Running’ will certainly find appeal with a widening audience. He is a master craftsman in the genres of folk-rock, pop-rock and art-rock, and pens beautifully lyrical and well thought out songs.
He writes “I think I’ve finally found how I want my records to sound. Vocally it’s my favourite album to sing already, I’m really, really happy with this one”. And most definitely his feelings are reflected in the fourteen tracks that comprise his latest work. The first track, ‘Smoked Ice Cream’ starts with an intro in his familiar acoustic style, and gets the album off to a crackling good start with its driving rhythm, beat and punchy vocals.
The second and title track sets the mood for the vocal and production values that Faulkner wanted to achieve with this his latest album. A minimalist track musically, but it sets the bar very high for his vocals by his own admission. That challenge was met admirably and if anyone thought of Faulkner only as a guitar specialist, this song alone puts him right up there as a complete performer with the best.
The album gives great value for money, not just for a generous fourteen tracks but also for the remarkable diversity and feeling in the songs. With repeated listening the sheer quality of the song writing and musicianship becomes ever more apparent. By the ninth track the listener’s ears are well set into an enjoyable groove and that track, ‘The Good Fight,’ is simply an astonishing acoustic masterpiece. Beginning and ending with the sound of children at play, this piano led piece again showcases vocal mastery at work.
I sent a copy of ‘The Good Fight’ to the professionally trained Danish vocalist Signe G of the Scandinavian band ‘Leaving Atlantis’ for an opinion. “Wow!! I’m in love, he is amazing! Like a folky but more belting and heartfelt vibe”. A perfect recommendation Mr. Faulkner! Track twelve, ‘So Long’ is a duet with Tessa Rose Jackson and is beautifully sung, and leads into ‘Never Alone’ which is an accapella gem that deserves to be listened to loud with eyes closed. Only those with hearts of stone will not get goose bumps or even a small tear in the eye.
The final track ‘Don’t Understand’ just keeps the musical momentum flowing with a delightful song that gave Faulkner a chance to put a good many of his collection of instruments to work. So to the sound of the African chora, harp, and a huge Asian zither, this superb album comes to a percussive and happy sounding end. The album has been a constant companion while working at my day job and I have lost count of the number of times it’s been played and I can 100% recommend it to anyone who loves beautifully constructed and performed music.