Singer-songwriter Mark Newman is out with his latest record Empirical Truth.
Diving deep into the blues, Mark Newman, delivers his vocals with soul on his new 12-song, 51 minute record, Empirical Truth. Mark Newman’s immense talent as a guitarist is what sets him apart from other singer-songwriters in his genre(s). The incredible licks and performances heard on this record are played by Mark Newman himself. He has mastered electric guitar, acoustic guitar, lap steel guitar, mandolin and dobro.
His credits include working and performing alongside these great acts: Jim McCarty (The Yardbirds), Willy DeVille (Mink DeVille), Sam The Sham, Bobby Whitlock (Derek and the Dominos) and Sam Moore (Sam & Dave).
The first track of the record “Scapegoat” pulls heavily from blues and classic rock influences and contains a mighty guitar solo that definitely should not be ignored. “Life Without You” keeps the funky feel going in the verses, then turns to a catchy vocal and psychedelic rock feel for the chorus section. “Mississippi Mile” takes things back to an old school delta blues style. It’s filled with bluesy riffs that hit right in the soul.
The song “When I Aim My Gun” starts off with a quick finger-picking riff, then turns more into a rock ballad. The guitar picking comes back in eventually, which keeps things feeling fresh throughout this track. This song proves Mark Newman’s storytelling talent that comes through in the form of songwriting.
That brings us to track 5, “Seven Days.” This track feels different from the early part of the album because it starts off acoustically and feels like a singer-songwriter ballad before the full band comes in to add some more flavor on the track. This song definitely pulls on the heartstrings, coming across as highly emotional as Mark Newman tells the story of being locked in jail.
The mood picks up quite a bit on “One More Song About A Highway.” This traveling song stays true to itself as the music feels adventurous and moving, featuring a rolling guitar riff and a grooving bass line. Quick drums pick up the pace compared to the previous songs on the record. The imagery comes through in the music. I can definitely picture Mark Newman traveling along the highway and stopping at rest stops while listening to this song. Mark Newman tells his traveling story on “One More Song About A Highway.” Hey, you can never have too many songs about traveling, highways, and life on the road! There’s a certain freedom to those stories that is frequently desired.
Next up we get to “Sharin’ the Blues” which features blues riffs that will stop the listener dead in their tracks. This song comes across as the biggest showcase of blues talent on the record thus far. Mark Newman, originally hailing from the Bronx, knows how to pack true soul on this authentic and well-performed blues song about sharing someone else’s blues and sorrow.
“Pipeline” is up next which brings the record back to a classic rock sound, and could fit in with the likes of Allman Brothers Band, The Grateful Dead, The Band, and Creedence Clearwater Revival. This song is a political protest song and talks about the Dakota Access Pipeline. Lyrically, this song talks about a very relevant political topic, while the music feels like a throwback to the Woodstock era.
After “Pipeline” wraps up the listener is introduced to “Are You Lonely for Me.” This song has gospel roots mixed in with the classic rock and blues background that Mark Newman has clearly mastered. The backing vocals on this track add a lot of flavor to not only this song but to the entire record!
Approaching the end of the record we are hit with an instrumental track called “Everything You Know” which features Mark Newman’s bluesy guitar performance and whirling organs. Things settle down on the next track “Roll Um Easy” which features a slide guitar / dobro, and a classic folk/Americana singer-songwriter sound. This song also contains a female harmony that makes this song feel like a folk ballad that is being played around a campfire on a hot summer night. This song stands out a lot on the record but again, adds another layer of diversity to Mark Newman’s record. The last song on the record is “Lycanthropy” which is a metaphorical song about anger, and transforming into a werewolf. This song brings it back to a classic rock feel to end the record in a fun and exciting place.
Every song on this record has a slightly different vibe to it which shows Mark Newman’s songwriting talent and complete ability to keep things fresh and exciting. Empirical Truth stands well as a complete record and should be listened to straight through, in order, for maximum enjoyment.
Listen to the record on Spotify now:
Check out Mark Newman’s performance at the legendary City Winery for Cellar Sessions:
Written by Ryan Cassata