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Harris Newman: Accidents With Nature and Each Other

Track Listing: The Butcher’s Block – Cloud City – Continental
Drift – It’s a Trap (Part I) – Lake Shore Drive – A Thousand
Stolen Blankets to Keep You Warm at Night – Lords & Ladies –
Out of Sorts – It’s a Trap (Part II) – Accidents – Stopgap
Measure – Driving All Night with Only My Mind
It is not unusual for the world-beating Montreal, Canada underground music scene to gestate
and nurture a genre-bending artist of Harris Newman’s caliber. Yet Newman’s unique approach
to the compositional acoustic steel-string style sets him apart from the herd, both in his
hometown and far beyond. A veteran of the Montreal music community for some time, as a
member of the bands Sackville (Constellation Records) and Esmerine (Resonant), Newman shot
into the ranks of the new folk movement with the release of his well-received debut
Non-Sequiturs (Strange Attractors, 2003). Intuitively melding sunny, “Fahey-esque” acoustic
ditties with experimental sonics, Non-Sequiturs was a breath of fresh air. Come to find that
Newman was merely hinting at grander things to come. Accidents with Nature and Each Other is
a tremendous leap forward for Newman, a remarkable adaptation of his impeccable
Takoma-esque fingerstyle into broader regions of harmonic complexity, texture and structure.
Newman’s strengths lie in his dexterous ability to borrow from the traditions of the steel string
guitar movement while propelling it forward into postmodern realms. Accidents with Nature and
Each Other has time-honored solo acoustic grandeur on full display, but Newman brings many
more variables to the table. Experiments with the raw sounds of the naked steel string and a
wider palette of instrumentation augment beautifully his particular brand of guitar soli. The
result is a rather diverse array of sounds and structures, all centered on the acoustic guitar.
Languid, gorgeous melodies and hefty fingerpicking workouts bump up against ghostly
harmonics and acoustic drones. A trio of solo workouts mark the beginning of the album,
harkening both the aggressive trajectory of Leo Kottke and pastoral terrain of Robbie
Basho…after that, all bets are off. Newman’s unorthodox lapsteel playing paints eerie
landscapes on “It’s a Trap (Part I)”, flowing into “Lake Shore Drive”, a deep and dreamy pool of
color made vibrant by contributions from Sandro Perri (Polmo Polpo) and Bruce Cawdron
(Godspeed You! Black Emperor). Vast expanses of Ry Cooder’s lonesome Americana brush up
with harmonic drone on “A Thousand Stolen Blankets…”, Sandy Bull/Billy Higgins-style of jazzy
raga meet acoustic post-rock with “Lords & Ladies”, and opiated lounge melds with a Twin
Peaks vibe on “Driving All Night With Only My Mind”.
Today’s avant folk movement has found a fresh new vision from the heart, soul and fingers of
Harris Newman. Accidents with Nature and Each Other is simply a jaw-dropping sophomore
effort of forward-thinking solo acoustic music – with Fahey squarely in the rear view mirror.

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