Paul McClure talks about his new album

Paul McClure talks about his new album

Songs For Anyone is the follow up to Smiling From The Floor Up McClure’s debut album release for UK Americana label Clubhouse Records in March 2013.

Well, here it is – The “difficult second debut”.

This is not the album I set out to make. It’s not the album I thought I’d have the opportunity to make this time around…. it is, however one that I’m very excited to be putting out into the world.

It’s the first time I’ve loosened my grip on an album and let anyone else drive. But when someone with the experience and passion for music that Joe Bennett has shows genuine excitement and a depth of ideas for your songs, you know it’s time. Joe is the thinking man’s trumpet, he is the best band I’ve ever written for. I’ve known Joe for a while; I’ve known his music for longer. We were talking on the phone one day and I was trying to decide between the four or five different ways I was thinking of doing this album when Joe said “I’ll do it. I’ll record it for you. Come on down to Truck, it’ll be great” and he hung up…

Joe brought Mike in to play drums; such a versatile drummer, he works fast and he works good! He takes decent photos too. We knew we needed a female voice to cut through between mine and Joe’s and as far as singers go, I couldn’t imagine making an album without Hannah. And that was it. Six sessions later and it was all done. It was important not to over think this album, I wanted it to happen naturally and on it’s own as much as possible. One of the good things about gigging a lot is you get to know your songs. The good thing about working with a multi-instrumentalist like Joe is that you don’t have to get too many people in the room all throwing ideas in, you can hold on to the identity of the songs. That’s not to say two of you can’t find things to ‘discuss’ after 12 hours in the studio – “let’s not over think the shaker part…” was one of Joe’s better bits of advice.

It’s an album of songs about love; trying to get it, trying to keep it, trying to understand it, and just getting on with it… all things I’m terrible at. And of course love of music. Which came first – the heartache or the music? I must have spent over half my waking hours listening to music, often with friends; talking about it, dreaming about it, wishing about it, wanting it. Often on my own. It’s been the one constant since my early childhood of learning songs for days locked away in my room, looking for a way out. I met my wife at a gig. I got through the death of my mother by writing songs about it. I ran away to the road, hid on the stage, told my secrets in code, sang my heart out. The most important thing for me is that i’m honest; honest to myself and honest to the people who Iisten to my songs. I imagine most songwriters, most artists, are in a way creating an autobiography of their lives through their work. So if my album is a chapter of my life then I think this one is an honest read.

It’s been a busy time for me since Smiling From The Floor Up came out. That album was ground zero in many ways; it heralded the start of me gigging on my own, learning to stand on my own two feet, the house concert thing, travelling the country finding new places to play, meeting new friends and the birth of The Rutland Troubadour! We had a lot of fun making this album, I really hope you enjoy listening to it.

So now it’s time for the continuing adventures of The Rutland Troubadour. Are you sitting comfortably? Then I’ll begin… Chapter 2 in which our intrepid hero decides to….”

If you would like to order a copy of an album (CD or Vinyl format), download a copy or just listen to snippets of selected tracks then click below to be taken to our associated partner Amazon’s website (use the left and right arrows below to scroll along or back to see the full selection).

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‘My Little Ray Of Sunshine’ live:

PAUL McCLURE – Smiling From The Floor Up (Clubhouse CRUK0019CD)

PAUL McCLURE Smiling From The Floor UpAt first hearing Paul McClure hails from somewhere between New York and Texas. Then you hear certain inflections that are decidedly English in the midst of a style that suggests pre-electric Dylan, maybe around Another Side Of. There’s little to be gained from guesswork, however, we need the facts.

Paul is from Rutland and Smiling From The Floor Up is his third solo album. It was recorded with minimal support, just two backing singers (Hannah and Alex Elton-Wall) and a lap steel (Joe Bennett) on the title track. It’s not quite as live – Paul overdubs piano, accordion, drums and ukulele on his acoustic guitar – but the feel is right, as are the songs.

I take it that the opener, ‘Long Gone Out Of Here’, is about a deceased musician but Paul isn’t explicit. The mention of New York conjures images of night-shrouded alleys and iron fire escapes but the song is a simple hymn of praise to the un-named singer. The final track, ‘Moments Lost’, is initially on the “lonely in a crowd” theme but then Paul is singing about his baby daughter and you realise that the moments are ones that he has lost. Other top tracks are ‘Pollyanna’ – truck-stops, pickups and a girl who is no better than she ought to be – and ‘Any Number You Like (As Long As It’s 4)’ which is about …well actually I’m not quite sure but there is a touch of “everybody must get stoned” about it.

There you have it. A smashing album from a guy I’ve only just heard of. There is more music out there than I’ll ever get to listen to but I’m glad this came my way.

Dai Jeffries

If you would like to order a copy of an album (CD or Vinyl format), download a copy or just listen to snippets of selected tracks then click below to be taken to our associated partner Amazon’s website (use the left and right arrows below to scroll along or back to see the full selection).

Buying through Amazon on folking.com helps us to recover a small part of our running costs, so please order anything you need as every little purchase helps us.

Song 6 from the album Smiling From The Floor Up:

Owen Tromans: “For Haden” EP

Owen Tromans grew up in The Black Country and led John Peel favourites San Lorenzo before pursuing a solo career that has seen him release several acclaimed albums and tour extensively, supporting the likes of Best Coast, Idlewild and Plush. Owen has also appeared on collections alongside Devendra Banhart, Mercury Rev, and members of Sonic Youth, and shared split singles with the likes of Wooden Wand.

Following on the heels of Eternal Western Youthdream – a compilation of a decade’s worth of songs – comes For Haden. Teamed with his long-term collaborator Joe Bennett of The Dreaming Spires, Tromans has created an EP that combines some of his most charming pop songs with a ragged, melancholy edge. These songs all look back to Tromans’ youth growing up in the Black Country, with opener “Greg” leading on from its twisting, finger-picked intro to call upon Owen’s memories of his beloved Drop Nineteens and their now-reclusive leader Greg Ackell – “When I was 14 or 15 the Drop Nineteens were my favourite band, I loved Greg’s lyrics and, even though he was portrayed as a brat in the music press, really warmed to him through the songs.”

“Bella In The Witch Elm” is a more sinister beast, evoking the Arcadian chamber folk of a bygone era. Here Tromans tells of an infamous local murder – “It’s quite a well-known tale and it always stuck with me, how these boys found a woman in a tree, her hand severed and buried, and still nobody knows who she was. Later, this mysterious graffiti sprang up asking ‘Who Put Bella in the Witch Elm?’ compounding the mystery.”

“Trinity Records” is a love song to the record shop, or at least the three Birmingham stores that Tromans would religiously visit at weekends – “It was a real thing, everyone going to the shops to hang out, talk about bands and maybe even buy something… So much of my love for music comes from those three shops, and of course they’re not all still with us.” The song’s dusted, 3AM feel reminds us of the times we used to let the needle spin all night.

“For Haden” takes its name from the area where Tromans grew up and is his most personal evocation of the place he has often referenced in the past. A slow-burning epic, at its heart is a tension between youth and experience, with an acknowledgement that to some extent we are all the product of where we found our feet in the world. Finally, the thunderous garage rock of “Count The Lights” ramps up the volume in the vein of Owen’s previous guitar-churning efforts such as “John’s On The Bridge”, before collapsing in a blizzard of feedback and busted noise to close proceedings with a typically atypical flourish.

If you would like to order a copy of an album (CD or Vinyl format), download a copy or just listen to snippets of selected tracks then click below to be taken to our associated partner Amazon’s website (use the left and right arrows below to scroll along or back to see the full selection).

Buying through Amazon on folking.com helps us to recover a small part of our running costs, so please order anything you need as every little purchase helps us.