Sunday, 3 May 2015

Paul Brady - Hooba Dooba, album review

And It Is Really Good

Filling that gap a little in my knowledge of Paul Brady’s work [referenced in yesterday’s posting] I have been checking out his 2010, inauspiciously named album Hooba Dooba. Thankfully, the twee workings of that title are usurped plentifully by the quality of the songs. You can read Brady’s own account of the writing and recording of this album here.

Opener Cry It Out [Paul Brady/ Tyler Hayes /Greg Beck] is a rather generic, upbeat rockpop song, fuzzed guitar setting its scene, but even in this the anthemic quality works its singalong magic. Second Rainbow has a Country tinge to it at the start, though it then turns, it seems to me, to a New Orleans sounding swing. Third throws us another curveball in so many ways, The Price of Fame written with Ronan Keating: this is a complex song in its varying structures of core melody, rising chorus, sweeping strings, and those strings carrying it back to its balladic core but all the time rising in its orchestral whole. Paul Brady’s vocal throughout these three and all that follows is quite distinctive – a slight rasp in its tone, never stereotypically pretty, but always full of energy and emotion.

Fourth One More Today [with Ralph Murphy] begins in what might seem a schmaltzy piano ballad a la Billy Joel, but this too exudes an intrinsic quality, deft touches in the melodic lines, and again those strings. Fifth The Winners’ Ball twists the pace, this a funky gem, and sixth The Luck of the Draw [covered by Bonnie Raitt] returns to acoustic guitar, Brady’s vocal sweetly toned within its rasp, and an accompanying harmony vocal adding to the beauty of this song.

This will suffice for characterising the variety and sustained engagement, though I am tempted to account for all. To compromise, I will mention three more: eighth Mother and Son is a gorgeous storytelling song with piano and sweet strings and touchingly poetic lyrics:

Mother and son
Mother and son
Who can ordain
The promise to come?
Maybe a curtain-call bouquet
Or a garland of sorrow
Caught in a web by destiny spun
Tied to the beat of the ancestral drum
Nowhere to run
From mother and son
Mother and Son

Ninth Money to Burn deserves a mention for the way it demonstrates how Brady does not shirk from more complex themes, not least lyrics that do not rest so prettily or easily within conventional songwriting:

She don’t want to hear you cryin’ again
Callin’ out your existential pain
Comes a time when every sensitive brain
Needs a taste of reality
Yeah, the money markets are wreckin’ your head
You shoulda bought commodities instead
Now you spend your whole day living in dread        
Of impending mortality

Eleventh Over the Border [and it does mean I have written about the majority!] is the most powerful and beautiful track on the album. It demonstrates the depth of feeling Brady is compelled to put into his songs, and I think that passion and poetry merge most successfully within the frame of this songwriting, here reflected ironically and poignantly in the idea of listening to music 'over the border' and away from the turmoil of the real and painful world. I trust it is OK to quote the whole lyric [and all from this album and others available on Brady’s own excellent website]:

Living is easy over the border
Bounteous fare in every degree
Peace and contentment over the border
Truth and respect like water running free
Now when the night is coming down
That’s where I really want to be

Feel like a stranger traveling through this real world
Hearing a language foreign to my soul
Men using words like Freedom and Religion
When what they mean is Money and Control
Out of this dark illusion
I’ve reached my own conclusion

You can keep your War on Terror,
Guantanamo and Red Alert
Kid yourself it’s you who’s walkin’ tall
Bundle up your New World Order
‘Scuse me while I pop my beer
None of that means anything at all 

Over the border
Living is easy over the border
People can be what people want to be
Music and dancing over the border
Laughter and love like rivers running free
Bitterness gone forever 

All humankind together
You can keep your Holy Jihad
Your Fatwa on the Infidel
Fantasize the world will heed your call
Segregate your men and women
‘Scuse me while I sing my song…
None of that makes any sense at all
Over the border

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