"I don’t currently do the live thing. It’s not who I am right now," says Newman. "I think the craft of songwriting in the industry is getting sidetracked. Writing with a view to perform changes things."
Instead, Newman places a singular emphasis on crafting intimate songs, with the intent to reach people intimately, one on one, through their headphones. He does it quite well too. One of his newer singles, Feel The Temperature Rising, breaks ranks from his earlier self-produced EP and pushes his voice above his modal register.
Studio Demos EP introduces an artist with more to explore.
The strain creates a pained sentiment that reveals the struggles of an artist left out on the fringe of the mainstream. While the instrumental is elegantly simplistic, it picks up heavier percussion as it builds to an urgent conclusion.
"Feel The Temperature Rising explores areas of ‘hype’ within the arts, and to me, hits on the areas of frenzy that surround a hollow core in the arts," says Newman. "But I'm reluctant to be too specific with meanings; people can generate their own attachments."
As an exceptional contrast, pair up Feel The Temperature Rising with Pandora, which features Newman's more common singing voice. It's a sharp song, one that bridges the gap between acoustic and indie rock with compelling contemplative lyrics and a straightforward acoustically-driven melody.
"Pandora is a track that I wanted to write, to explore a certain type of songwriting," said Newman. "It’s a song that talks about the picking of the scab inside us, the pursuit of the negative. All the things emo/pop-punk sometimes attack."
The difference between the tracks is indicative of Newman's experimentation over the past year. His early tracks have a raw edge that he attributes to working in certain restraints. But since then he's been experimenting with a diverse vocal range to avoid predictability and in a studio so he can layer effects for a fuller sound.
While he works within this context, Newman doesn't necessarily consider himself as a singer-songwriter. On the contrary, he considers his work more explorative and investigative as it relates to flipping through emotional layers. While admittedly, he agrees it risks coming off as pretentious, it still best describes what he does as an artist.
"I'll never be the best guitarist or best pianist, but it's the mental and emotional layers that I'm interested in, and I tend to use lyrics to do it," he said. "Singer-songwriter might be a loose term, to give people an idea what I'm about, but that term would probably give people a door into what I'm about."
Newman is an artist as much as he is a musician.
He's had time to develop a still-evolving direction. After some early piano lessons as a child, Newman taught himself the rest and later picked up the guitar. As an independent artist, music is not the only area he's learning. He self-shot the video and added effects to distract from the quality. He acts as his own publicist and marketing director. Last year, he self-produced some T-shirts and gave them away to anyone who asked until the boxes were empty.
At the moment, none of his work carries a price tag. Everything from his first album, Single But Defective, and his new 4-track EP (plus one unmastered mix), Studio Demos, can be downloaded free from Bandcamp.
Pandora and Feel The Temperature Rising are my picks. While Decade is fine energetic folksy rocker, the vocals don't feel in place until the latter half of the song. Head Hurts is a solid nihilistic song, but you have to look past a few imperfect moments. The album of Newman's early work is all original with recordings reminiscent of a stripped-down Brian Jonestown Massacre. There are plenty worth downloading, most averaging around two minutes each.
Studio Demos By Stuart Newman Gets Under The Skin At 7.2 On The Liquid Hip Richter Scale.
Newman is an unexpected creative force in artistic exploration. At times, some of his influences ring out loudly and sometimes the discipline drifts, but those qualities also lend well in creating an aura of unpredictability with some shining moments that are fresh, unique, and surprising. Dig around and expect some flashes of brilliance.
Since there is no outlet to support his work by buying it, all Newman asks is that you take the time to connect and share his work. His Website can be found at StuartNewmanMusic.com. While obscurity remains his biggest challenge, helping people "pass by" where he's standing is the best way to give him and his work a lift.