Newfound Strangers emerged from Derby in October 2016 and have already released their debut EP Take Me As I Am. The band consists of: Dan Shaw (Vocals and bass), Chris Payne (Guitar), Dave Kent (Guitar) and Nathan Rose (Drums).
The EP is a quintessentially Rock-sounding five track collection, and the opening track ‘I’ll Be There’ immediately sets this tone. The guitar sound feels very classic 80s and 90s American Rock, as does the violently sing-along-y chorus. The song, as with most of the tracks on the EP, is a straightforward love song that lyrically places itself nowhere outside of the expectations that you might have for a song titled ‘I’ll Be There’. The song is undoubtedly catchy and the lead guitar really does capture a sense of nostalgia through the almost Dire Straits’ sounding tone; although, with the lyrics failing to add any sense of nuance to the Classic Rock sound I felt that the track suffered greatly.
‘Hero’ and ‘Saviour’, however, really turned things around. The Country Rock leaning of tracks two and three massively benefited the band’s sound, with Shaw’s vocals coming into their element in the more acoustically driven ‘Hero’. ‘Hero’ and ‘Saviour’, though very similar, offered a genuine sincerity in the lyricism that I felt was lacking in ‘I’ll Be There’, which makes them stand out better than the opening track. There is a definite reach towards a more Del Amitri inspired sound that I found better exposed the obvious talent of the individual musicians.
‘Rush’ and ‘Let Me Be’ return partially to the Classic Rock sound of ‘I’ll Be There’ but the retention of some Country Rock influence means they both sound more fully formed than the opening track. This is perhaps due to the fact that it is when the band grapple with a more Country Rock inspired sound that they come into their stride. Again, however, the similar subject matter and construction really hampers these songs, with the occasional nostalgia for a Classic Rock sound not being enough to make them jump out at you.
Overall, this is a collection of songs which are unavoidably catchy and, on the surface, foot-tappingly appealing. ‘Hero’ and ‘Saviour’ are definitely the standout tracks, where the band, who are all obviously very experienced musicians, seem to better come together under the Country Rock influences. Also, the fact that this collection has been written and recorded in such a short time since the band fully formed is something to take into account. However, the fact that there is nothing here which is new makes the EP drag. Perhaps it is my overt focus upon lyricism which meant that this EP wasn’t for me, however, if you are a fan of Classic or Country Rock which stays safely within its genre and gives you something to sing along to, then you should check this out.
Newfound Stranger’s EP Take Me As I Am is available to listen on Soundcloud.