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Newton Faulkner believes in accidents. A bona fide pop star at home in his native UK - where radio presence, great press and a thrilling live show drove Hand Built By Robots to the top spot on the album sales chart upon its release there last summer - this 23-year-old singer-songwriter makes music full of serendipity and happenstance, coincidence and luck. As its title suggests, Hand Built By Robots contains acoustic music for the digital age: Faulkner croons in a voice shaped by years spent listening to Joni Mitchell, Neil Young and Tom Waits and plays guitar with a distinctive tap-pick-and-strum technique that allows him to use the instrument as guitar, bass and drums all at once. Call it folk-pop for the future, and get ready to hear quite a lot of it as Faulkner goes about spreading his success to these shores.
For all of Hand Built's hand-built craftiness, Faulkner says that where he feels most comfortable is onstage before an audience, playing songs, telling stories and cracking jokes. (It doesn't take long before you realize that Faulkner particularly likes cracking jokes.) A Bobby McFerrin gig atLondon's Royal Festival Hall made a huge impact. "He was basically just strolling around making noises and chatting to people," Faulkner marvels, "and everyone sat back and sort of said, 'This is really nice'."