“When I Aim My Gun” might not be everyone’s cup of tea. There are many people, for reasons of their own, who believe music and politics should never mix and their entitled to their opinions, but Mark Newman clearly sees a need to confront the obsession with guns in American life head on in his newest single. The song is, thankfully, written in such a way that it stands a good chance of connecting with listeners straight away, both musically and lyrically, and it’s to his credit as a songwriter that Newman realizes the need to crouch such potentially explosive material in an appealing musical package. Newman has played alongside some of the biggest figures in popular music and those experiences clearly inform his artistry in satisfying ways. “When I Aim My Gun” certainly isn’t light weight fare, but it gets over with listeners thanks to some fundamentally strong elements.
These aren’t light hearted verses making up the body of Newman’s song. His words spare listeners nothing as he considers the possible motivations driving someone to murder another human being with a gun. It is refreshing that he doesn’t take an overly judgmental stand at any point, but his unhappiness with the realities of the song is strongly implied and not a stretch to note. His vocal eschews some probably more predictable approaches – falling perfectly in line with the lyrical content, Newman takes a slightly mournful approach with his vocal and the concentration he shows towards getting the phrasing right deepens the song’s riches and makes it a more dramatic experience. He never pushes too hard on the lyrics and, instead, the emotive finesse he shows, full of bluesy strands, proves an ideal match for the words.
It has a decidedly rootsy vibe. The song moves along with a relaxed meander, never spiking above a mid tempo pace and the guitars, rhythm section, and organ alike have a orchestral approach that keeps things really balanced with the vocal, but the song takes a more instrumental turn with dueling solos between the organ and guitar. The organ playing, in particularly, elevates “When I Aim My Gun” several notches above its already fine quality, but Newman’s lead guitar work is exemplary as well. He has that essential quality that all great players possess – a sense of when not to play as opposed to piling needless notes on and distancing listeners. Casual fans, however, will find much to appreciate in this song rather than just music devotees who intently study the performance. This is a living, breathy rock song with a vibrant soul and blues influence running through every line and Newman commands it with a steady professionalism and artistry that makes it stand out in a crowded field. “When I Aim My Gun” is a song built for live performance, as well, and has a easy handle on communicating with its target audience.