Paul J Bolger last released an album twenty-five years ago. In the interim he has been working in visual arts and film rather than music. Over the past five years, what reads like the lighting of a slow-burning fuse brought him back into music through a combination of chance encounters and his own desire to put music back in the centre of his creative life. An EP was released in late 2018 and the self-titled album, Paul J Bolger, which has resulted from a more intense focus on his music is to be released in June.
The single, ‘I Believe’ is already out and can be heard in the video link below. Bolger has taken the Horslips phrase ‘Bog Gothic’ to describe his style. I’m not sure that would give many people a feel, so listen to the video and you’ll hear a vocal which is easy on the ear and some nice guitar fore-fronting a little orchestration. ‘Two Wrongs’ is a little rockier; ‘Pillarstone’ is a little fuzzier; and ‘All Those Things’ is propelled by piano and pedal steel; all are similarly easy to get into.
My favourite tracks, though, are ‘Wedding Gown’ and ‘Swim’. Bolger’s vocal on ‘Wedding Gown’ is much more compelling, deeper on the verse and higher, haunting and wistful on the almost-chorus (the words change to develop the story). Musically, there’s a sophisticated sparsity which matches a sophisticated lyric. It’s a splendid song which deserves wider playing.
By contrast, ‘Swim’ rocks; it’s the opening track for the album and would make a great opener or closer for a gig, particularly if followed (as it is on the album) by the similarly catchy ‘How Many More Tears?’.
Bolger describes his return to music enthusiastically, “after a lifetime spent shifting between music, writing, visual art and film I am doing what I want to do at an age some might say I should know better. Nothing can deliver instant satisfaction like writing, recording and performing a song you wrote for a live audience. Making this album has been a ‘never too late’ dream come true for this aging rocker who finally found his voice.”
Artist’s website: https://www.pauljbolger.com
‘I Believe’ – official video: