.. the title of the album by Paddy Stratton and Friends, and an apt one for this blog piece too. I’ve been sat on the CD for a good few weeks now and finally had a chance to have a good listen. When Simon sent the CD through his name rang a bell, but it wasn’t until reading through the accompanying press release that I realised I’d probably spotted his name in writing credits on Levellers CDs down the years – he co-wrote Believers and contributed All Your Dreams, Sea of Pain and American Airdo to their musical canon.
Getting CDs to listen to and write about still spins me out a bit – I love music, but I’m not musical in any way – but I guess that’s true of a reasonable number if not most music fans out there. I got the disc just before jetting off on holiday and had a cursory listen and worried it would be one of those occasions that I get something that I don’t get on with, but mentally filed to have a proper go when I got back. Of course once I was back I’d forgotten until I got a gentle reminder (thanks Simon!) so in between a resurgently busy time of gigging and festivals I’ve now had a chance to get to know it.
My first impressions (pre-holiday) were that whilst I could appreciate the craft of songwriting and quality of the production it was a bit too far down the country and western spectrum for me – however on reappraising I was a bit hasty. No, very hasty indeed. It was released back in November 2015 and Paul Fitzgerald shares the writing credit with Paddy – despite enjoying the songs he wrote for the Levellers for many years, he’s never made it onto my radar until now, more’s the pity.
So this album has – as the title implies – has been a while in coming to fruition. It starts off with the slow paced gentle slide guitar-driven Other Side of Town, with the lovely lyrical sentiment of ‘all I can say is that you make my day into a good one’ – who can’t smile at hearing that? Paddy’s vocal delivery is great too. Next track Lay Down The Lamp is also laid back – with piano accompaniment, the musicianship on this as well as the mixing is sublime, more lovely lyrics too – ‘surely love would have to be enough?’… who can’t get on board with that?
My favourite song lyrically is up next though – Even If I try has the wonderfully evocative line ‘even though we wander blind amongst the wrecks of human kind love is going to keep us in control, even if I try the world won’t fit my eyes’ – I love it, it really resonates with me. Please Don’t Make Me continues in the same vein, harmonious and comfortable with soothing words yet an underlying sad refrain somehow. Then you’re rocked into life with a much dirtier bluesy guitar chug signalling Save It For St. Louis – grittier vocals and fuller sound.
In a Bar slows the pace again – swirling keyboards and melancholic rhythms and words evoke being, well, in a bar! One More Dance starts slow but develops into a cheery acoustic bop that I could see myself moving around to at a gig. Another pace change, a piano intro brings If You Touch Her – intricate lyrics and piano with a slow rhythm, it’s emotionally strained at times. Then a dirty dirty bass line brings in You Can’t Show Me – a slow paced chug, soulful vocals and melancholic lyrics again – with the offer of hope in the cries of ‘it’s gonna be all right’ toward the end – finishing up with some lovely piano work.
The last track is Some People – a meandering folky feeling song superbly delivered, the lyrics are frustrated but the delivery wry and almost amused/resigned sounding. Hard to put into words, you’ll have to listen to see what I mean! All in all, I’m now somewhat smitten after my initial ungrippedness so whilst I’m clearly now an advocate – if you’re not first time round, give it a few more spins, this album has started to feel like a comfy pair of slippers to me, which doesn’t sound like much of a compliment on the face of it, but it really is.
Definitely one to pop on when you want to relax with a drink and drift away, this will massage your mind wonderfully into peaceful appreciation of some fine song-writing, fantastic musicianship and well considered and executed production. I’m only sorry I didn’t get around to listening to it properly sooner. Paddy Stratton is now officially on my radar to check out live. You can buy Finally in digital form by clicking on this link here – I’d certainly recommend it, I’ve not found a CD link yet.