Release Date: Oct 16, 2015
Record label: Island
Genre(s): Pop, R&B, Pop/Rock, Contemporary R&B, Retro-Soul
Released almost exactly two years after the U.K. chart-topping, platinum-selling Tribute, Revolve more closely follows Calvin Harris' equally successful "Blame," on which John Newman provided a typically full-throttle vocal (and somewhat contradictory lines like "Guilt is burning" and "Don't blame it on me"). Although Newman made this album with a new set of collaborators, including fellow producer/songwriters Greg Kurstin and Jack Splash, its foundation is likewise in muscular retro-soul that blares and bolts and manages to keep up with the singer's superhuman level of energy.
There are two ways to look at Yorkshireman soulster John Newman: 1. Here’s a guy who is James Brown to Sam Smith’s Little Richard. Both artists have taken influences from all the R&B greats and meshed them with hyper-current production ethos that form somewhat of a forward-thinking soul music sound. You want Otis Redding in the Katy Perry era? You best expect a whole bunch of four-to-the-floor grooves and more processed sounds than a shopping mall’s arcade.
It seems an age since John Newman’s first album, Tribute, put on its dancing shoes, followed soon after by the crying game of Sam Smith’s first album. For a time, the two baby-faced soul men enjoyed parallel ascents into renown, with No 1 singles as featured vocalists (for Rudimental and Naughty Boy respectively); both peddled old-sounding vocals to a young crowd. Their fortunes diverged somewhat when Smith’s torch song approach yielded the bigger numbers (8.5m worldwide at last count).
After bustling his way towards the front of the overcrowded retro-soul field with 2013’s Tribute, Yorkshireman John Newman sounds desperate to go further. Revolve opens with a chest-thumping speech about strength and resilience, and is packed with stadium-aimed tunes, strings, brass, a choir and presumably a kitchen sink – but that didn’t stop recent single Tiring Game limping to No 134. Lights Down and top 5 hit Come and Get It are much stronger songs, and Newman’s gritty voice suggests an authentic soul man.