At 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.
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Song 6 from the album Smiling From The Floor Up: