Canadian-born Curtis Newart performed his first paying gig at twelve years old, and has since gone on to works as an actor, stage manager, publicist and producer. He released his first album ‘Exploits in a Modern World’, in 2006 via Immaculate Records, the record label he founded in Vancouver, Canada. Now with 8 original songs plus a remake of his popular song Perverse, and a cover of REM’s ‘Man On The Moon’, Newart bounces back into the spotlight with his brand new album entitled ‘Rock the Chandeliers’. Rich in sonic depth and lyric nuance, boasting an expansive widescreen ambiance while still pulling the listener in close. Like any good album, this one scans well on the initial listen and is powered by the classic “make the first three tracks grab the listener” strategy via the dandy march of ‘Rock the Chandeliers’, the piano-driven ‘Confetti and Beachballs’ and the hip-swaying, dancefloor motif of ‘Down the Garden Path’.
Curtis Newart is a kind of musical maverick as he swings between the 80’, 90’s and 2000’s for creative inspiration and production flavor. Newart no doubt knows that if you hook fans right off the bat you stand a pretty good chance of holding their attention for the rest of the duration, something more indie artists should take to heart.
More important, though, like a truly great album, ‘Rock the Chandeliers’ doesn’t lose steam. In fact, it gets better with each spin. Song after song connects: from the remake of his up-tempo guitar-based rocker “Perverse”, and the synth-driven, ‘Superhuman’, which in its moody grandeur is destined to wind up as the best track on the album.
The album’s other decisive masterpieces, include a thrumming, 80’s-esque ‘Lost in Light”, the urgent and edgy hand-clapping rocker ‘Fork in the Outlet’, the slightly lesser edgy, but no less urgent ‘Thru the Keyhole’. Point of fact, every tune serves the moment, like a series of self-contained short films whose character sketches, though brief, are utterly memorable, with the accompanying sonics being just as resonant.
On ‘Man on the Moon’, Newart intelligently sticks closely to the Michael Stipe script without mimicking. A lesser performer would either have copycatted the original performance or totally twisted its dynamics. Newart captures and hearths the song’s nuances and poignancy and makes it his own.
The album closes down with ‘Trippin on the High Horse’, another track soaked in classic analog-type electronic sonics. It again shows off Newart’s ability to infuse a universal quality into a rather specific sound. It’s a soundscape that verges on homage to a bygone era, but never slips into cliché. There’s an underlying vocal confidence and lyrical gravitas that boosts this effort.
‘Rock the Chandeliers’ is obviously a record created entirely on Newart’s own terms, and as such is a remarkable one, which transports you down nostalgic paths which were once the cornerstones of great music. It’s a record that feels clearly considered and carefully produced to maximize Curtis Newart’s strengths – both in melody and voice.