Lauren K. Newman


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On a technical level, Postulate deserves a nod in that not only did Lauren K. Newman play everything herself but everything was recorded in a couple of takes (at most) as well. One doesn't listen to music for the technical aspects per se, though, so happily Newman succeeds at an even more important level -- her music actually rocks pretty damn well. In a world of dullard one-man band pseudo-"perfect pop" dullardry, Postulate, the first of three albums taken from a series of recording sessions, is far more in line with PJ Harvey than Eric Matthews, for which we can all be grateful. Newman's fierce, low vocals play off her strong guitar work, recapturing a spirit of late '80s and early '90s indie rock buried in a haze of nostalgia and radio grunge feebs. If anything, the feeling is of an actual band playing together, making her solitary approach all the more impressive, capturing a "live" atmosphere in synthetic fashion. The downside of the album is that it's a bit of a piece in the end -- each song generally has the same feeling of thick guitar parts, a medium pace with a bit of strut and brawl -- though the quick song lengths and relative shortness of the album keeps it from wearing out its welcome. What does stand out more in the end are the clearer variations on the formula, such as the descending melody of "Circumstance," capturing a touch of glam melancholia, the extremely gentle "Close the Door," which finishes the album, or the vocal/guitar-only start of "I Can Think of a Better Question," the end of which has some truly gripping overdubbed screams and wails. "Long Road Psalm" is a striking standout, a wonderfully moody, slower song that captures what was right about desperately anthemic classic rock before radio overprogramming turned it into a dead horse.