Album Review: Empirical Truth by Mark Newman
From his storytelling abilities to his incredible skills as a musician, Mark Newman’s got everything you could possible want in a singer/songwriter/performer. Years of extensive, professional experience clearly shows on his 2019 album Empirical Truth, which is why it was the Winner of The Long Island Blues Society Best Album Category. Indeed, his fantastic fusion of blues, rock, bluegrass, and country music is noteworthy to say the least.
The record kicks off with “Scapegoat” — an awesome, energetic, and upbeat song about being blamed for a murder that someone else committed. Kudos to Newman for the great intro to the album. If audience engagement was the goal, it certainly succeeded; not only is the story immediately attention-grabbing, the music is so insanely captivating, you’re invested in hearing the rest of the track right off the bat.
He keeps you engaged by following up with “Life Without You” — easily one of the best breakup songs I’ve heard to date: “Keep the money, Though there’s not much to be had, Keep the new car, I’ll just take a cab…” It’s free of drama, emotional wallowing, and revenge. Instead, it’s a good-natured piece about moving on with life under new and slightly scary, but ultimately exciting circumstances.
Next up is “Mississippi Mile,” a highly relatable song for busy people who are always on the go. The speed with which Newman is forced to go through life has exhausted him, and he is looking for relief in simplifying his regime and staying put long enough to accomplish some of his other, more personal, goals before it’s too late: “What’s behind is a broken line, what’s up ahead is a danger sign.”
Newman follows up with “When I Aim My Gun.” It’s different from the other songs in its tone and composition. It begins with a story about a man, who hunts to provide for his family. But, with time, the gun evolves into something more than just a hunting weapon: “When evil’s inside, Turn wrong into right, When I aim my gun, I’ll take up the fight, I’ll be your white knight, When I aim my gun.”
After that comes “Seven Days.” I am not a fan of this song, but others may find it appealing. I did enjoy “One More Song About a Highway,” which is a story about a man who lost his job at a factory. Because he needs to support his family, he becomes a driver who is tasked with transporting an assortment of cargo, both human and not. “Pipeline” reveals Newman’s thoughts on some of the controversial plans proposed by our government, pointing out the negative effects of doing so. Even though the topic he addresses is serious, the music is absolutely amazing.
“Are you Lonely for Me” is a totally unexpected and pleasant surprise. Starting off with vocals by an awesome female contributor, the song gradually builds into one of the best tracks on the album. “ Up next is the lyric-less track “Everything You Know,” which is followed by “Roll Um Easy,” and features a great female vocalist. It’s a slower song and not my personal favorite. But, Newman ends the album on a high note with the slower “Lycanthropy,” which has a great arrangement and composition.
It’s no wonder that Newman’s musical prowess gave him the opportunity to work “alongside many other soul, blues, and rock greats of our time including Jim McCarty (The Yardbirds), Willy DeVille (Mink DeVille), Sam The Sham, Bobby Whitlock (Derek and the Dominos) and Sam Moore (Sam & Dave).” To sum up, Empirical Truth is an awesome album put together by a very talented performer. So, give it a real listen when you have a moment.
Note* Album provided for objective review by our partners.