"Gloriana" by Paul Mccormack
Today Paul Mccormack has a new release for us, "Gloriana", a follow up to "Thoughts" (which I advised you of last month) and which can be found at https://soundcloud.com/user-511434765/gloriana.
Like its predecessor, it has an ease and grace to it, which I think we can safely say is Paul's style. Perhaps a trifle more stately than "Thoughts", the song not only references Elizabeth I in title and lyric, but subtly in the tune. For a musician not unfamiliar with the music of Stratford-upon-Avon, he must like many of us, heard rather too much cod-Tudoring in his time: but don't worry: this is not full on tourist styling but as I say, something more nuanced: the odd touch of the madrigal in what is a pretty timeless folk tune. It's all a bit more English than "Thoughts" yet I was once again, as I was previously, drawn to the echoes of Neil Young: most obviously in this case the parallels with "Cortez the Killer": if the latter was a damning indictment of the Spanish colonisation of the American continent, then "Gloriana" in its way offers Paul's perspectives of the English heritage within the same context. Less angry sounding, it still makes its point effectively in perhaps a more English way: understated but just as powerful for that. The juxtaposition of sweet tune and chiding lyric is an effective one to add to the effectiveness (think Elvis Costello) and after a few listenings, I think Paul is also making some modern connections too: I may have to play it a few more times to make sure.
What's not to like: a track you have to play repeatedly to fully grasp, clever & detailed structure & once again in the finished form, Paul makes it all sound so simple. What an art. It's a shame it's taken him until now to record such excellent material, but it's been worth waiting for.
"Thoughts" by Paul Mccormack
Although I have written about singer/songwriter/multi-instrumentalist Paul Mccormack in the magazine before (in the context of a Merrymaker live review), this is the first time I've been able to write about a solo release, namely "Thoughts" which is an entirely self created song (the first of many he intends sharing with us) and which you can access via: https://soundcloud.com/user-511434765/macca-track-master-print-pt
Though coming to it within hours of its public emergence, I still find myself some way down the line of enthusiastic responders online: it has already created quite a stir, not least with other artists, which is always a good sign of genuine quality & originality.
My expectations of the song were already very high before I heard it, given the comments of others & my previous experience of Paul's talents: in normal circumstances this of course is far from a problem, though in a reviewer maybe it can lead to self fulfilling observations? At any rate I have tried to be objective in rating "Thoughts" as it probably exceeded even such high initial predictions. It really is a classy piece of work (one might expect no less) but where it really scores in my opinion is the grace & ease with how he pulls off the composition & delivery of such an excellent song. Paul makes it sound much simpler than closer examination reveals it to be & you can't help but think after only a couple of plays that you've known it for a long time. Now that's a difficult trick to pull off.
The seemingly effortless approach allows him to use a very accessible & engaging vocal performance which acts as much as the breezy arrangement & melody to draw you into the song.
The lyrics are again finely balanced: thoughtful & articulate yet with the outward common touch: everyone can understand what he's talking about (there is no exclusion here) yet in such a fresh enough way that you don't just feel it's a set of sentiments you've heard too many times previously.
The arrangement and production are admirably clear (it sounds mostly like a single acoustic guitar although there are moments when I wondered if I'd heard extra overdubs) and the style, while generally "British" has occasional nuances from farther afield: I kept on sensing odd moments of Neil Young intruding into changes & melody… and that is certainly intended as a compliment.
As a debut of a series of original tracks, this is a very compelling calling card, showcasing not merely accomplishment in composition & performance but crucially taste too. I look forwards to hearing more….