Mark Newman – When I Aim My Gun


The soulful delivery of “When I Aim My Gun” strikes quite a contrast with its aching lyric about America’s often bloody love affair with firearms and the mentality that, clearly in Newman’s eyes, seems to drive some of its most extreme adherents. Make no mistake, however – this isn’t some musically dry piece serving merely as a vehicle for Newman to preach his political beliefs. This is a very human track, stylish, and has a nice aura of warmth thanks to the playing excellence involved and focused production that helps both Newman and the song deliver the goods for listeners. It’s quite pleasing to hear how direct this song is, yet notice the enormous skill that goes into making it come together. “When I Aim My Gun” goes after some thorny subject matter, but Newman obviously knows how to package it in such a way that it transcends any difficulties.

Guitar and organ really make this track go musically. Mark Newman’s six string work as the sort of assured touch you’d expect from a seasoned professional, but it doesn’t merely hit its marks. Newman’s playing acts as the equivalent of a second vocalist for the song and unwinds with the same warm, organic nuance we hear from Newman’s singing. He has a voice burnished by experience and technique alike and invests the characters and scenarios depicted in the lyrics with more drama than they already contain. The guitar though makes for a lovely choice of lead instruments and finds an excellent partner in organ playing equally adept at leading the way as well as filling in the verses with flashes of vivid color. Everything stays tasteful however. This is an instrumental vision that doesn’t wallow in excess and, instead, zeroes in serving the song before all else.

The song’s lyrics are structured around a chorus focused on voice and verses fixed on delivering an accompanying narrative. Newman obviously has a well developed songwriting sense that allows him to use different approaches within one tune without it ever sounding disjointed or ill fitting – it’s this sort of talent that allows him to push beyond mere sermonizing in his songs and touch the human experience behind some often very heavy issues. He never uses a word too many, much his approach to the musical half of songwriting, and those words he selects drive straight to the heart of the subject without any sideshows or self-indulgent attempts at poetic flourishes. “When I Aim My Gun” is the latest success story in an increasingly length discography full of excellence. Mark Newman, after a long career, hasn’t ever stopped growing either and songs like this testify to an artist who continues to be tightly engaged with the world around him. This isn’t songwriting or music that stays above the fray and aspires to pure entertainment; it uses a popular medium to make an important statement about the world we live in and one man’s reaction to it.


Shannon Cowden