24/7 live streaming for 5 weeks, no it’s not some dimwitted reality show that features 10 celebrity’s and only 8 brain cells. It’s England’s own ginger dreadlocked singer-songwriter Newton Faulkner and his unique idea for new album ‘Studio Zoo’. Letting his fans keep a watchful (and slightly stalker-ish) eye over him for the entire recording process is a brave and quite experimental move. If he makes a single mistake the whole world will know and be ready to scrutinize…Especially if he wants to slack off for a burger and beer.
Only a single year since his last record, it seems that he’s had this great Big Brother style concept and instead of taking his time and honing his songs making them the rememberable feel good classics that everyone loves him for in the first place, he’s actually rushed them out. What ‘Studio Zoo’ delivers is half thought-out tunes that have been recorded on a tight time scale with no flexibility or room for error.
Lyrically it is quite emotional as he explains his honest relationship problems that must be hard to let out knowing you’re constantly being watched. There are moments of hope as ‘Plastic Hearts’ starts off like it’s going to be a huge singalong but then the chorus disappoints. With much less layered guitars but the same old voice that makes Faulkner so distinct from his competitors, the song that really shines and might be able to hold up against his back catalogue is ‘Waiting on You’ that apart from sounding half finished, has a chorus that potentially could be a live show highlight.
Tracks like ‘Treading Water’ and ‘Don’t Make Me Go There’ never pick up. On previous releases one or two slow paced songs like these were nice breathers yet this album is filled with these rather depressing lullaby’s that it gets frustrating, you’re not being taken on the Faulkner journey you’re accustomed to. Normally you’re used to hearing upbeat, hippy-like acoustic folk songs from him whilst ‘Studio Zoo’ actually gets melancholic, not exactly the best way to see out the summer. Now time to go find the anti-depressants.