PAUL HANDYSIDE – Tide, Timber & Grain (Malady Music MALCD005)

Tide, Timber & GrainPaul Handyside is a thirty year veteran; a former member of Hurrah! and Bronze and a musical mate of Martin Stephenson. Tide, Timber & Grain is his third solo album of original songs.

Originally from the north-east, Paul’s music now combines the melodic style of Scottish ballads with the instrumentation of country music. It’s a perfect match as many musicians will testify. The opener, ‘Flowers Won’t Bloom’, is an ecological warning wrapped up with a love song, It’s a big song with Handyside, producer and multi-instrumentalist Rob Tickell and bass and melodeon player David Porthouse multi-tracked – in fact most of the record is constructed that way until we get to the solo ‘Should I Leave Your Side’.

It is with ‘Fond Farewell’ and ‘All Will Revealed’ that the Scottish country fusion becomes apparent. The former could easily be a traditional melody and it’s only Handyside’s words that give it away while the latter has a mid-60s Bob Dylan hint to its lyrics – it’s a really good song. ‘Woodcutter’s Son’ returns to traditional themes and even opens with an a cappela verse before the melodeon takes the lead. Eventually, of course, the whole instrumental repertoire joins in. ‘A Whaler’s Lament’ is similarly traditional in style with the melodeon up front and a lyric that is unsparing in its description of working conditions. The narrator’s story continues with a clever twist that I won’t spoil for you, making this the album’s best song.

Despite it being distinctly downbeat I like this album very much but I think a little sunshine amid the gloom would have been nice.

Dai Jeffries

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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.
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