There’s authentic goodwill knitted into the music Danny Newcomb releases. After more than three decades of writing and performing songs, releasing albums under different signatures and touring flashy cities and opening for big name acts such as Oasis and Pearl Jam, Newcomb embodies a lifelong rocker not chasing forgettable accolades. His new record, Steal the World, carries a fierce, but earned wherewithal and unsurprising arsenal of talent courtesy of Newcomb and his band, the Sugarmakers.
Album opener, the transparent ode, “For Lou” parrots key Lou Reed phrasing, cadences, and riffs, but firmly squares Newcomb and the Sugarmakers’ intent: singable, unfussy rock ‘n’ roll. The charmingly melodic song (even better on subsequent listens) is a perfect study in what makes Newcomb and co. so essential; subtle rock history extraction into authenticity, magnified by their attention to detail (consider Jason Staczek’ perfect chorus synth). “Steal the World” trades Lou’s leather for Bruce’s jean jacket. Robert Lee Mitchell’s rousing piano attack compliments Newcomb’s words and restrain. The band skins the rock anthem pages with this earnest, bar band spark. “Butterfly” backs off the bar thrills for a gentle reflection on yesterday amid timely guitar solos. Here, Newcomb’s years and crystalized intellect shine brightest.
The dazzling, swerving power-pop riffs on “Burning Brightly” stock precisely with Newcomb’s vocal push and tandem of Rick Friel’s blue-collar bass and Eric Eagle’s airtight drumming. “Pain” highlights Newcomb’s singer-songwriter reach, before returning to the infectious power-pop parade. Guest vocalist, Fiia McGann, shimmers here and on the acoustic sweater “Cold Release”. Her bright sound pastes easily with the Sugarmakers responsive tack, bending fluidly through rock’s innumerable styles.
Album sendoff, “Broke My Fall”, carries a balladry rife with sincerity, thus capping an album stout with unclouded views and lasting pillars. Steal the World’s lived in sound can’t be overstated. It overshadows the pithy, indie wannabes and rock’s legacy acts (who haven’t released anything noteworthy in decades). It’s an endearing rock ‘n’ roll record, which avoids rock’s indulgent pitfalls despite riding so close to rock’s established sounds. Chalk it up to keen ears and 10,000+ hours of consistently striding into warm legitimacy and rising above the ebb and flow of rock’s turbulent chart toppers.