Life in a Small Town in Words and Music
In a week when I’ve reviewed albums by Bruce Springsteen, Willie Nelson and Chuck Mead, this latest release by English singer-songwriter Paul McClure has possibly excited me more than all of those releases by household names. While I’m truly flattered for my opinion to be considered by those record companies; it’s the likes of Paul that makes this reviewing malarkey worth while.
I had to stop doing what I was doing and start the CD again when I first heard the deeply personal and brittle opening song The Morning and My Love, which finds McClure pouring his heart out while he plays a piano in what sounds like an empty room.
Just like that first song there’s an intensity and deep felt pain in several other songs here; even though the pace picks up on Sing To The Stars and This Is What They Mean (When They Sing About The Blues) which kick what we normally think of as Folk Music into a ditch, as McClure criss-crosses traditional genres with ease.
Unlike Paul McClure on title track Market Town, I couldn’t wait to leave my original Home Town as a young man; moving 10 miles away to a shiny new dormitory town; which I’ve lived in for 40 years so can empathise with his deep held love he has for the Market Town he has never left and will fight to the death anyone who would ever criticise it!
There are joys a’plenty in the characters in songs like Sing To The Stars; about an old chap McClure met at a gig and got around to telling the songwriter that his biggest regret had been been working day and night to put food on the table; but it had meant he missed his kids growing up; and McClure manages to get that pathos across in every line and stanza.
As a died in the wool ‘romantic’ selecting a Favourite Song was quite easy, with the charming Grandad’s Pants just getting pipped at the post by Daddy Will You Hold My Hand. ‘Swoon’ McClure’s story swept me back to my own days as a young father; but also made my heart swell as I thought of my two sons and their own children as Paul McClure with Ally McErlaine supplying slide-guitar tug and squeeze at the listeners heartstrings like a hand in a velvet glove.
While we get excited by the romantic imagery conjured up by our American and Americana friends; Paul has gone back to what he knows best ……. living, loving and working in an English Market Town; and his personal songs will catch the attention of even our friends across both the North Sea and the Atlantic because each and everyone of these tiny stories are actually International and deserve such a widespread audience.
Released June 21st 2019