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The combination of blues and folk has seen a surge in popularity as of late. Slick guitar tones and haunted, crooning voices are on the rise, which is not surprising given the intimate nature of it all. Young songwriter Rhys Newell fits this bill nicely, as he makes an admirable first impression with his debut EP I Will Find Calm.
With a gentle yet haunting voice and a solid ability to craft an arresting tale of love and loss, Rhys Newell emerges as a promising addition to the folk scene.
Currently studying Marine Biology the young musician started his life in the music world as a kid listening to his dad play guitar. His love of music was fostered and grew into his teen years when he joined a grunge rock band as the bass player. “I went and learned how to play bass guitar and started enjoying music in a whole new way, and it was really fun” Newell says. “I just sort of enjoyed that camaraderie that came with being in a band, which is funny because now all of the stuff I do is solo.”
Moving on from his grunge band roots, Newell has released debut EP I Will Find Calm. Recorded at the studios at JMC Academy in Brisbane, it was the first time Newell had recorded in a studio before. Despite being his first time the recording process went off without a hitch. “We had all four songs recorded in two days and then I spent another day going over some of the mastering work with [his close friend] Ruben. Ruben is super dedicated to his craft and deserves full credit to how smoothly the whole recording process went.”
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The sounds of nature are something that ties the EP together and creates a sense of fluidity. His use of these natural sounds is a showcase of the skill and understanding Newell possesses of dynamics. From the sound of the waves in Undine, which open the EP to settle and centre the focus of the listener, to the rain in Rainfall. With folk music there needs be a feel or connection to the natural rawness of music and Newell captures this throughout.
The whole EP is brimming with emotion, the narrative element allows for a strong empathic element to emerge. The themes of love and loss resonate quite clearly, as I Will Find Calm shows a mental and emotional journey with the protagonist. The completeness of finding love and the warmth it gives you is captured and placed into Undine; “If she tried to give my heart back / I doubt I could keep it at all / I’d throw it to drown in the sea, hoping to reach her shores.”
This completeness is then counteracted through the embodiment of loss in Grave. Exploring one’s state of mind after having a love denied, unrequited and rejected is exposed to the listener. “We could see the stars form here / if I’d only known the stars could die / once, once we were closer / I hold you tighter then I held my heart.” The final stage of loss plus is also the final stage of the EP in the form of Riverman, the song leaves you with a lingering sentiment of acceptance and calm; “Leave me out for the wolfs to eat so I can see the world through their eyes / I will calm in the silence / calm in the darkness I swear / so give a penny to the river man / give a penny a penny for me”.
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