on 17 March 2007
Paul Steel - 'NOT just another singer songwriter' - and thank the Lord for that. In these post-Blunt times it seems any bloke gigging under his real name is a sensitive, acoustic balladeer - omega males the lot of them. But not Paul, the Brighton singer has a healthy obsession with the Beach Boys and some huge, huge ideas that belie his station as a solo artist. Over just under half an hour of ten seamlessly linked tracks we hear every section of the orchestra accompanying layers and layers of vocals. It's as if Paul has all his friends round helping, or at least a Brian Wilson guardian angel.
'April and I' tells the story of Paul's relationship with his real-life childhood imaginary friend April (whom he still keeps regular contact with we hear) and the covers the subjects of suicide, school bullies and honkin' (on his crackpipe). Meanwhile anything and everything is fired at the studio wall and what sticks (mostly everything) sticks. For instance, the classic Spector-esque sound of 'Take It Or Leave It' merges invisibly into the pounding Queen meets Bonkers hardcore of 'School Bully' before seamlessly morphing back to calm and the beauty of 'I Gave Her My Number'. Elsewhere, the lunatic 'Honkin' (On My Crackpipe)' (this crack is pure fuckin' belter man!') sounds like The Small Faces fronted by Elvis Costello covering the theme to The Flumps. By the sound of it, it probably looked like that too.
on 5 March 2007
I first saw Paul Steel performing about a year ago and i was blown away by what appeared to be a great depth of song writing ability thrown into the vast psychedelic pop world he'd created.
There was no disputing that there was a mine of talent there but I don't think any of us were expecting it to turn out to be such a breath of fresh air. The obvious comparisons of beach boys, elo, jellyfish, SFA's, supergrass and granddaddy instantly grabbed you and I'm sure will be referenced by all those (listen to the first track lazy journo's) for a long time to come but there is so much more to this than at first meets the ear.
'April & I' is the tale of a loser kid and his imaginary friend striving to grow up trouble free and along the way conquering the school bully, experimenting in love (or attempting to), getting high and finally growing apart. Paul's profound ability to tell this familiar tale, applying the psych pop ideal and give it twist it into this dark and humorous story line shows a great skill and even hints at the genius, especially when you consider that it was written at the tender age of 18.
There's a lot going on in that head and it would appear a lot more to come out. I'm sure we'll be hearing a lot more from Paul's imagination and if he ever decides to give up on the music industry the world of writing is crying out for such a talent.
This is the best 27 minutes of inspirational music I have spent listening to in a long, long time and inspired many lost memories of childhood. An epic, beautiful and bizarre journey so pleasurable that you'll repeat over and over.
on 8 March 2007
The debut from wunderkind Paul Steel is a veritable masterwork of pop brillance. Ten tracks that segue seamlessly to make one 27-minute song.
April & I tells the tale of a boy, his imaginary friend, and the struggles of growing up. Playful melodies and lush harmonies abound among orchestral swells, traditional piano and guitar, and even a dance party electronic romp.
In synthesizing a history of pop from The Beach Boys to latter day groups like The Posies and Jellyfish, Paul Steel has created the perfect headphone symphony. ([...]
on 2 March 2007
i bought this album at a Sean Lennon gig just before xmas. Steel was supporting and it was pretty great so i bought the cd. I had no idea it would be this good though. Apparently he recorded it entirely on his own in his bedroom when he was only 19. Its up there with Pet Sounds and Sgt Pepper in terms of scale and ambition and the fact that he's written and recorded it all himself tends to suggest that we have a major producer talent in our midst. Move over Spector, Bacharach and Wilson. there's a new kid in town. Best of all is the guy is so nice. i had a chat with him after the show and a nicer man you couldn't hope to meet.
Can't wait to buy the real thing as my hand made copy is looking battered.
on 30 March 2007
I saw these guys play at the Westport Bar in Dundee at a midweek gig supported by "Page 6" and "The Grace Emillys" who provided most if not all of the crowd. (All 20 of us!).
I only stayed after the 2 local bands because I hadn't heard of Paul before and there was a coupel of hours left before my passage back to Fife woudl be blocked by a lack of petrol in the car and the tay bridge shutting for repairs.
When I got home I added this album to my wish list and waited for pay day, while a mate who was there too bought it the next day.
Having seen this lot live takes a lot out the album, the tracks are still great, but the sound isn't as good.
If you have bought the album, go and see them live. Even if it is at a mid-week gig that only the support acts and their friends know about.