Tide, Timber & Grain
Deep, Dark and Beautiful, Modern Folk Songs.
I was a big fan of Paul Handyside when he sported a quiff and wore a black leather motorbike jackets, skinny black jeans while playing a noisy electric guitar in Hurrah (For Youth)! Since ‘going solo’ his music has evolved in tandem with my own musical tastes; and with this; his third since 2007 he; again has captured my own mood perfectly.
Opening song Flowers Won’t Bloom takes up where the last album, Wayward Son left off. A dark and brittle love song; about the aftermath of a broken relationship; there is a raw honesty to Handyside’s words and the simple accompaniment left me forgetting to breath by the end.
No longer the noisenik of our youth; Paul appears to be on the verge of entering a Folk period; with songs like Fond Farewell, All Will Be Revealed and the epic A Whaler’s Lament, as all three share the traditional construction and flat enunciation associated with that particular singing style. The first two I liked a lot; but A Whalers Lament with it’s mournful harmonium and ‘challenging’ acoustic guitar is what you could call an ‘acquired taste.’
Perhaps it’s where I am in my own life at the moment but I do like a bit of musical misery these days; and with Let Me Down Easy and it’s opening lines ‘Pour me a whiskey/let it brim the glass/hold me in your arms/and maybe this will pass’ Paul managed to leave me emotionally drained by the final couple of lines.
If you think that song is sad; try the brittle and sorrowful Desperate Days for good measure. Not only does Handyside prove what a great wordsmith he is; (There’s a mask I hide behind now/so the pain won’t show/everybody knows) but yet again the subtle combination of his guitar and Rob Tickell’s lap-steel is truly heartbreaking.
While still acutely sad and dark; there are also a couple of songs that show that there is still ‘light at the end of the tunnel’ and these two both vie for my ‘favourite track’ title. Goodnight Lover shows that you can still love someone even after they have left you for another even though ‘Nightmares wait at the top of the stairs/of a someone you miss/there is no one to kiss.) but the winner is (of course) True Love, with it’s almost Bluegrass ‘feel’ as Handyside’s words almost bleed out of the speakers on a story worthy of Hank Williams and lyrics so intelligent and observational only Leonard Cohen springs to mind as a comparison.
Tide, Timber & Grain is not an easy album to listen to; but well worth the effort and could well herald a successful new direction for this Geordie singer-songwriter.
Released April 1st 2016