PAUL BRADY – Unfinished Business (Proper PRPCD144P)

Unfinished BusinessOn September 8th, Paul Brady releases Unfinished Business. It features nine new compositions and two traditional folk songs. The album is Brady’s fifteenth solo album and covers a range of styles – as well as the traditional folk songs there are elements of jazz, country, Brady’s own unique folk style and, I suspect, a potentially massive hit song if he wants it to be. It sounds as though the album shouldn’t work because of the range of styles, but it does; Brady has the pedigree (a career spanning five decades and the plaudits of international folk and rock stars) and the sheer class that you can play this album many times over and hear something new each time.

The video below is of the title track, a beautifully smooth late-night-piano song which opens the album and then moves easily into the up-tempo ‘I Love You But You Love Him’, two songs which reflect on the discordance of love, the first reflective, the second wryly humorous, both of them songs of experience: “the time I said goodbye to the one who really was the one…it’s some old unfinished business from a long forgotten time” from the first and “I love Chicago blues, you love your hip-hop” one of many images of difference from the second.

‘Something to Change’ and ‘Say You Don’t Mean’ continue with the Brady and his band in up-tempo mood before slowing down a little for ‘Oceans of Time’. I’ve played the album a dozen times and this still strikes me as a potential major hit. ‘Harvest Time’ is quieter, but gives me another song in my collection with harvest in the title which I suspect will have similar longevity to the Neil Young tracks.

Brady recorded the definitive versions of ‘Arthur McBride’ and ‘The Lakes of Pontchartrain’ in the late 70’s. The two traditional songs on Unfinished Business are ‘The Cocks Are Crowing’ and the final track, ‘Lord Thomas and Fair Ellender’, both of them having that under-stated perfection that comes from Brady’s mixture of technical competence and ability to inhabit the song.

Between these two songs are three more where Brady and the band continue the up-tempo style on ‘I Like How You Think’, ‘Maybe Tomorrow’ and ‘Once in a Life Time’. On an album where I could pick any of the eleven tracks as a favourite, ‘Once in a Life Time’ is the track I’ve played most – a lyric to cheer the darkest of days “Sometimes once in a life time makes up for all mistakes….real love waits its moment, real love won’t play games…..you wonder why the bells aren’t ringing/don’t you know real love’s got a whole lot of blues’’ and a chorus you can’t help but join in with.

This is Brady’s first new album for seven years and well worth the wait. It’s the album of a mature artist and songwriter – and his band – who can cover multiple genres but keep the album as a coherent whole. “Being classy isn’t a choice, it’s a lifestyle” – Anon (or so Google tells me).

Mike Wistow

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

‘Unfinished Business’ live (not the album version):

Paul Brady announces new studio album, Unfinished Business

Paul Brady

With a career spanning five decades, Paul Brady, singer, songwriter and multi-instrumentalist is one of contemporary music’s most enduring popular artists.

Brady first came to attention as a teenager at college in the mid ‘60s, in a series of classic Dublin rock/soul bands. The world-wide folk boom of the time produced seminal groups like The Clancy Brothers, The Dubliners, Clannad and The Johnstons, with Paul soon joining the latter. He recorded seven albums with the Johnstons and moved to London then the USA, returning to Dublin in 1974 to join premier Irish folk band Planxty.

Following the band’s demise, Paul played as a duo with fellow member Andy Irvine; their Andy Irvine And Paul Brady album still considered one of the greatest of the genre as evidenced by the sold out 40th anniversary tour Paul and Andy completed in May 2017.

The late 70s saw Paul heralded as a superlative interpreter of folk songs. His definitive versions of the likes of ‘Arthur McBride’, ‘Mary & The Soldier’ and ‘The Lakes Of Pontchartrain’ influenced countless singers, including Bob Dylan who covered all three and wrote: “..people get too famous too fast these days and it destroys them. Some guys got it down – Leonard Cohen, Paul Brady, Lou Reed, secret heroes.”

After acclaimed solo album Welcome Here Kind Stranger (1978), voted Folk Album of the Year by Melody Maker, Paul surprised most observers with Hard Station in 1981. All his own songs, the album reflected personal changes amid a highly original combination of rock, blues, soul and pop and became a classic of modern Irish music.

Throughout the 80s and 90s Paul toured widely with his band in USA, UK, Ireland and continental Europe. Many highlights included European tours with Eric Clapton and Dire Straits. The albums True For You (1983), Back To The Centre (1985), Primitive Dance (1987), Trick Or Treat (1990) and Spirits Colliding (1995) further cemented his reputation as a songwriter and dynamic performer.

Celebrated by Ireland’s RTE Television with a six-part series The Paul Brady Songbook (2002), with Lifetime Achievement awards from The Irish Recorded Music Association (1999) and BBC Radio 2 Folk on 2 (2006), inducted into the British Composers and Songwriters Academy (2004), IMRO (Ireland’s Performing Right Society) Songwriters Academy (2013), and honoured by the President of Ireland with a Lifetime Achievement Award in 2015, Paul Brady is not only part of the cultural fabric of Ireland but a beacon to songwriters the world over.  Admired by his peers, recent double live album, The Vicar Street Sessions featured duets with Van Morrison, Mark Knopfler, Bonnie Raitt, Sinead O’Connor, Ronan Keating, Curtis Stigers, Gavin Friday, Mary Black, Moya Brennan, Maura O’Connell and Eleanor McEvoy.

Paul BradyPaul Brady releases his first new studio album in seven years, Unfinished Business, on September 8th via Proper Records. Brady’s 15th solo album and follow-up to 2010’s acclaimed ‘Hooba Dooba’, Unfinished Business features nine new compositions and two traditional folk songs and mirrors the eclecticism of Paul’s long and varied musical journey.

Unfinished Business was recorded at Paul’s studio in Dublin, with Paul engineering the record and playing most of the instruments himself. Of the nine new songs, Paul wrote three with Paul Muldoon, five with Sharon Vaughn and one with Ralph Murphy. The two traditional songs are: ‘Lord Thomas And Fair Ellender’, which Paul has sung ever since he heard Mike Seeger’s version back in the 60s, and ‘The Cocks Are Crowing’, which he learned from the singing of the late Eddie Butcher from Magilligan in County Derry.

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

Not from Unfinished Business, of course but this is Paul Brady’s real classic ‘Arthur McBride’: