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Cool Spin: John Newman, ‘Revolve’

John Newman is perhaps better known as a feature vocalist than a singer/songwriter in his own right, but that is doing the multi-talented Newman a disservice. His second full-length, Revolve, much like his debut, Tribute, is a little too detailed with rave-y jams made by traditional instruments for the pop audience at which the personality-filled Newman is aimed.

Everything about Revolve is huge: gospel choirs, brass section, pianos, organs, strings. This herd of big-band elements stampedes the album, with Newman gamely belting his gritty, sometime nasal, but nonetheless excellent voice. Snuggled in the folds of Revolve are three of its strongest songs. “Lights Down” has the whooshing builds and the chanting drops that are characteristic of EDM tracks, but Newman throws some classic disco vibes into the mix. “Come And Get It” also has some ’70s saucy swagger, and on “Blame” Newman manages to drag out “night” into an infectious five-syllable word that overrides the cheesy trance Euro-rave breakdown that serves as the song’s chorus.

For a minute there, Newman and Sam Smith were neck-in-neck in the British blue-eyed soul bracket, but Smith has left Newman in his dust, which is a damn shame.