PAUL BOLGER – Hard Truth (Pillar Stone Productions PPCD002)

Hard TruthHailing from Waterford in south-east Ireland, Hard Truth is animator, graphic novelist, songwriter and musician Bolger’s second album under his own name (he debuted as The Moss House in 1995) , four songs from which are remixed and remastered versions from 2018’s The Start Of It limited edition EP with added vocals from Della Mannion. Musically it’s what Horslips termed Bog Gothic, which, roughly translated, is a bluesy rock sound veined with folk and country influences, as on the opening driving shuffle EP beginning of a doomed relationship  (“You know when she walks through that door/That’s the start of it/Whispering ‘how do you do?’”) title track before  continuing with the twangsome guitar, handclaps rhythm of a countrified Van Morrison tinged self-descriptive ‘Godforsaken’ (“I could kill myself sometimes/No-one’d miss me if I died”) which even namechecks ‘Brown Eyed Girl’) also from the EP, and on to the moody, slow blues burning title track about “snake oil deceivers”  (“When you shouted freedom will reign/Now we lie here trapped by those chains”).

His country inflections are there too on ‘See Love Shine’, a number about love as an anchor (“By staying with me and making this all right/She makes me feel like a new born child/When I see love shine through her eyes”) that has a decided Austin texture to it, things turning rocky with the urgent thrusting energy of ‘Testify’ with its carpe diem wisdom that “If you wait too long life will pass you by/What will you do when love spits in your eye/What will it take for you to understand /There is no truth in a one night stand”.  Bluesy bass riffs open  the romantic ‘Light Of My Life’ before  a more Doobie Brothers groove sets it, flecked with mandolin, the two other EP reworks following, slow burn bluesy domestic abuse/addiction ballad ‘Lady Love & The Cavalier’ (“She called me her Cavalier/But I came way too late/To take her away from here… Now she sleeps alone in peace/Under roses in cold moonlight”) which is haunted by the Celtic rock ghost of Phil Lynott and the punchier guitar slinging ‘Different Sky’ with its no regrets theme (“We should enjoy our separate lives/And not cry for lost goodbyes”) and hints of Bryan Adams and Tom Petty.

The penultimate ‘Believe You Me’ with its attack on institutionalised abuse in the clergy (“Be a cold day in hell before I bend the knee/To pushers of mystery/“Suffer little children to come to me”/Is the most abused line in history/And I see them kneeling and I hear them praying/Sending thoughts to an empty sky/While their preachers live off poor people’s money”) takes it back to a smouldering feel with a bluesy electric guitar solo. It ends on a more upbeat note though with the five-minute ‘Not Too Long A Walk’ (“most people like to waste time and sulk/I like to run before I can walk/You’ve got the time I’ve got the talk/I’ve got a room up above/It’s not too long a walk”) with its tribal rhythm undercurrent and again curling round country smoked Celtic folk soul.

He’s been likened to Paul Brady, Jackie Leven and Lucinda Williams, which seems more than enough incentive to add him to your new discovery list.

Mike Davies  

Artist’s website: www.paulbolger.com

‘Testify’ – official video:


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