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

Artist’s website:

‘Let Me Down Easy’:

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