The Isle of Barra isn’t far from Tarbert on the Isle of Lewis and Harris, where my paternal great-grandfather was born. Andrew J. Newall finds inspiration when he spends time there. Andy is a talented musician that has released his third full-length album, Resilience.
My talent lies in listening to music. In my experience with playing music, I have found that no matter how many guitars, amps or effects pedals I buy, I still can’t play music. Apparently, I need to practice, which, alas, is my downfall.
It is readily apparent that Andy does practice; he makes music that is smooth as silk and lyrics that pull the listener into the song. Once again, I have the privilege of listening to an artist who tells stories through the medium of music.
The opening track, James and the Lost Ticket, sounds happy and has the line “dreams often can come true”; however, a note of sadness is riding along. The song tells the story of two chance encounters on a railway train. The first instance is the storyteller, James, sitting with Andy on a train, and “without much prompt,” James told his story to Andy. James road the trains each day, hoping to find a train passenger he had met, she had written her name and number on a train ticket that James secreted away in his shirt pocket. Alas, he had lost the ticket and now rode the trains each day, hoping to find her again. This song is an excellent introduction to the album and beautiful stories of Resilience and Andrew J Newall. Andy says this song deals “with the realization that opportunity only knocks once.”
For track three, The Waiting Room, I recommend having a box of tissue paper handy. Any song with the word cancer is bound to be emotional, and The Waiting Room is no exception. Despite the dread of cancer, one line caused me to break into a smile. Read the signs on the Dr.s door. Look around the room, count the tiles on the floor. Trepidation etched on each face.” I have been in more doctors waiting rooms than I care to count, and this line struck my funny bone, so bored that I count the tiles on the floor. Andy says, “dealing with the death of a significant person in your life. Again, the music is bright and lively, not giving in to the solemn nature of the critical topic of “support to a relative with cancer.” I am particularly attracted to Andy’s cadence; good stuff folks
The song “Never Free” tackles the topic of racism, and it does so in a perfect manner through this brave and honest song. This song challenges us to look at the people around us differently. Never Free. Never Free. Never Free.
Following on its heals is “And I Smile,” which caused me to smile. “And I Smile” is a top-of-the-charts song, that has stayed at number one for 7 days. Andy can honestly say that he has a top ten hit. Good stuff, I love it.
“The People I Meet Are So Beautifully Strange,” That line alone should vault Andrew J Newall into the waiting room for a Nobel Prize for literature. That fantastic line is from the song My Friends, a beautiful story.
I would recommend the title song just for the music. Some good-sounding licks are going on in the track. The lyrics are equally good, but I am drawn to the poems on the strength of the instruments. Percussion starts the song, and when the lyrics arrive, some tasty guitar licks propel the music forward. “When things get on top of you, you feel that you can’t take much more pressure from every side. Step inside another room, find some quiet space to sit, calm down, and give yourself a break.” Inside the quote above is my reinterpretation of Andy’s words.
There are more great tracks on this album, and you should treat yourself to a musical present this week for the excellent work you have done at home and in the office. The light and breezy lyrics that Andy lays down and then envelopes in catchy tunes that aren’t aren’t just about being in love or falling out of love. There is a level of intimacy that challenges us, the listeners, to move beyond the Billboard top of the charts and listen to some intelligent lyrics enveloped in gorgeous music. I would love to spend an evening with Andy. Listening to his songs and the slice of life stories he builds into these fantastic songs. To steal a snippet of music from Kris Kristofferson. Andrew J. Newall is a poet, and he’s a picker who tells excellent stories through the medium of music.