Newman's Own - PLACEBO
"Placebo," Jon Charles Newman’s current offering, is a cohesive musical document. In this case, the whole is greater than the sum of its parts; and these are good parts. No two tracks really owe that much to one another, but all of them play really well together.
The CD leads off with "Song for those who won’t hear it." I bet that if they did hear it, they’d dig it. The deconstructed orchestral sound is reminiscent of George Harrison’s better work with the Beatles.
Where cacophony meets hard driving rhythm, we find "Pronoun song." I found myself waxing poetic at how hip Schoolhouse Rock might have been. "If you think you need to," also returned me to my childhood. Like an anthem for those of us with difficult parents, this song is likely to raise a tear…or a glass…or maybe both.
Newman drags out the world beat with "The ballad of the JCN fan club," and "Iamnot." The former is a dreamy selection, with a sort of middle-eastern influence. The latter sports a back beat designed to make your maharishi makarena.
"The way you might hear it," is a catchy, melodic pop tune, carried off quite handily on what sounds no more sophisticated than a Casio keyboard. Newman, it appears, has learned more is not always better.
One of the unifying themes of the piece, are Newman’s vocals. Soft I’d call them, thready even, and placed well in the back of the mix on every track; some might argue too far back. I on the other hand, felt their placement was dead on. Vocals as sound element, not advertisement. This isn’t hook driven top40. There’s no place for humility in that format and this effort has a humble, personal feel, right down the song titles, listed as they are, in sentence case.
What I find here, is thoughtful and thought provoking, post-alternative music, and well worth a listen…or ten.