A southwest transplant of north east England, singer-songwriter and guitarist, Psykobilly (a.k.a., William Newton) first picked up the guitar at thirteen. Giving it a go in several bands throughout the 80’s, Newton eventually put the ax down for over 25 years to make time for family and career.
Around a year ago, there was a sonic resurgence, giving birth to the moniker, Psykobilly, a name chosen as a way of marrying his music with his work as a mental health practitioner.
Now teamed-up with Steve Smiley Barnard (drums, bass, backing vocals, production), James Walsh (vocals), Pete Kirby (keys), Beth Newton (backing vocals), and Stuart Lynch (mastering), William released the 2019 single, Leave it All Behind and the EP, Social Media Influenza; both of these serving as preludes to his debut solo album, Black Candle. A project which is one part classic, one part 80’s, one part neo-prog, and all parts entertaining.
“I’m not sure how people will respond to these songs. They are all personal and I just hope that people will look past some of the technical shortcomings and appreciate the genuineness and emotional honesty.”
HERE’S WHAT WE DUG MOST…
An ominous opening in the album’s quasi-title track, Light The Black Candle, sets the mood with some twisted amalgamation of down-tempo synth-punk with psychedelic overtones. If feels like Jack White cut an instrumental demo with Leonard Cohen.
Arguably, Leave It All Behind, provides the album’s definitive sound. Rich, celestial melodies, ominous themes, and a provocative overall production. There’s a lot of work going on here. It’s quite enjoyable, particularly if you’re into the genre. (Think: Dark 80’s.)
“It’s not a precious stone that you’ve found
It’s just another broken piece of my heart on the ground”
—As I Drown
Blues meets psychedelics in the fantastically expansive, Five Thousand Feelings #1, a unique take on twisted love.
“All you wanted was a way to change
All we wanted was a brighter day
I’m just looking for a place to pray
Got something to say so listen now
We are the lost”
Colourblind pulls from the best of the 70’s classic-psych-rock influences. Waves of ambient and celestial guitar chords, layers of vocal harmonies, and a backbone of sparkling keys sets the production off in a very Pink Floyd-esque fashion. We debated over whether or not to make this our favorite track. It’s top-notch.
Piano keys and finger-picked acoustic strings open the album concluding track, Remains. At 1:47 we get a lovely expansion of acoustic chords and strings panned wide in this reflective and melancholy ballad celebrating life’s Taoist—and sometimes—downright bi-polar nature. You’ll get no answers here, but sometimes it’s best not to pretend we know…
“And why do they say
That my feelings will change
Tomorrow I will feel better
And why does the ground
Hold me up and tear me down
I could fall away forever”
Utterly unique. Endearingly rough around the edges. Adventurous. A real indie-music accomplishment. Psykobilly’s (a.k.a., William Newton) return to music after a 25-year hiatus with his debut, solo album, the rock’n’roll genre-line-crossing, Black Candle, is at its very least—wildly interesting; and at its very best—verges on brilliantly wonderful.
Rich colors of layered sound, a constant crossing of genre-lines, and a rustically honest no-rules approach to songwriting make this album a real triumph for this artist who claimed his place in the musical universe long ago, and has now reemerged—anxious, unsure and doubtful of his skill. We say, continue sir, unfettered by your doubt.
The Cure meets The Killers…
BELOW: Listen to Psykobilly’s album, Black Candle, and connect with his social media platforms. Please support Psykobilly by visiting him online, and playing, downloading, and/or purchasing his music, or attending a live show! And, as always, thank you for supporting real music!