PAUL HANDYSIDE – Wayward Son (Malady Music MALCD004)

Wayward SonPaul Handyside is formerly of indie pop band Hurrah! and later of alt-country outfit Bronze. Wayward Son, his second solo album, combines these influences and, you might argue, places him somewhere outside our remit. However, he is a fine songwriter and there is a banjo.

Two musicians, David Porthouse and Rob Tickell who also produced the album, support Paul and between them they handle more than a dozen instruments. This isn’t an attempt to duplicate a live sound; this is making an album as good as it can be. Where to start? ‘When The Good Times Roll Again’ tells of a soldier shot for cowardice in WW1 and here Paul lets his Geordie roots show for the first time on the record. It is immediately followed by ‘Man Overboard’. A fisherman is lost at sea and we can imagine that this was a story that Paul was all too familiar with. Two more songs have the ring of truth. ‘Rose Of The Street’ needs no explanation and if Paul isn’t the subject of the title track then he knows who is.

The mood ranges from the battle-cry of ‘Glory Bound’ to the acoustic pain of ‘Still Time Away’. Paul’s voice is powerful but flexible enough to handle the changes of style and pace. There isn’t a bad track and there are some really good moments – the piano riff in ‘Love Lies Elsewhere’ sticks in the mind.

Dai Jeffries

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Artist’s website: http://www.paulhandyside.com/