I think this is a first for this blog, which focuses (mostly) on tradeshow marketing: an album review. I’ve done book reviews, but the album review, of longtime tradeshow presenter Ken Newman’s new LP, makes perfect sense.
I’ve known Ken for over fifteen years, back when he tweeted out some kind words about me and I picked up the phone and introduced myself. Since then, we’ve been friends, albeit from a distance, but we have gotten together a few times over the years to hang out.
And we’re both big music fans, and both musicians. Ken told me about his plans to record and album of original songs several years ago, so I’ve been following his progress, which was somewhat upended by the pandemic. But it’s finally here!
“What Am I Afraid Of” is a collection of rock and ballads that is packed with great hooks, solid songwriting and performances, and is topically about as on-point as one can get here in the third decade of the 21st century.
Ken’s shared numerous reviews of his LP on his Facebook page, including Must Have Media’s take which calls it ‘rough, raw, and revealing’; and an interview of Ken on Musical Notes Global in the lead up to the release, in which Ken digs deep in to the making of the album.
The opening track, “What Am I Afraid Of?” wastes no time kicking into high gear with a rollicking rock and roll beat and finishes off with some Tom Petty-like grunginess. From there into “Nothing to See Here,” about the common response people have to hard-to-handle events in the world.
Other standouts include a rock version of an earlier song “I Can’t Breathe,” which came out of the phrase that George Floyd said over twenty times as a Minneapolis police officer held him down, knee on his throat, and “We Should Do This Again,” about what it’s like being homeless in America. It was originally featured in the Blanket the Homeless collection that was released in 2019 and is also highly recommended.
The whole album is strong from start to finish, and Ken’s voice and playing capture a wide emotional range. Yes, Ken’s a good friend, but I highly recommend the album. It’s really good.
Ken’s been featured on my vlog/podcast TradeshowGuy Monday Morning Coffee several times.
Find the album and more here: Ken Newman Music