by Paddy Nash
All songs written by Paddy Nash
Produced by Eddie O'Donnell, Paul Casey and Paddy Nash
"I wanted to write some songs about how I view the world today. The things that make me angry, the stuff that makes me despair, the time and people that we lost, that I miss. I tried to find some hope along the way. I hope I did." Paddy Nash
2 Gate Fever
3 Thomas the Troll
4 Sink Like Stones
5 Meanwhile on the Golf Course
6 You and Me Both
7 Bonfire Night
8 The Boy in the Old Man's Clothes
9 We are the Dead
10 Fallen Friends
This is an album of intimacy, melancholy, of memoir and imagination. Some of the songs come across as personal, as if Paddy is letting us in on a few things from his life that he is ready to share with the world. The mood of the collection is calm and reflective. The arrangements are spare but very effective, the lyrics are inventive, honest and touching. All the ingredients, including the production and the supporting cast, combine to make this a very special experience. Paddy’s vocals are cool and unruffled, not showy, perfect for such a fine assembly of original songs.
I heard Paddy Nash talking to Ralph McLean on Radio Ulster recently and the conversation has helped my understanding of how some of these songs came to be. The album was recorded with minimum fuss and took just six days to mix and master. The artwork on the package, that includes a lyrics booklet, is by Rebecca Mulhern and it is stunning.
I will talk about selected tracks. Conor is a great song about a more seasoned performer encouraging young ambition but not offering too much heavy advice. “Conor has a dream, he wants to be a famous singer……. always be polite, ignore the put downs and you’ll do all right”. It’s a great way to open the album. Paddy told Ralph McLean on Radio Ulster that the lyric was borne out of an observation he made in a hotel bar. It is a memory, a picture painted, a point made and a beautiful piece of storytelling.
Gate Fever the album title, is the term used by prisoners to describe their worries, fears and apprehensions about how they will re-enter the outside world when their time is served. “Tonight I lay thinking of the choices that I made and how my worst ten minutes put me where I am today” - a prisoner assessment, time behind bars, a life of restrictions and routines (Paddy described it as a kind of groundhog day) until the day of release back into society “the great unknown” – “I can feel that old gate fever coming on”. It is a powerful song.
Thomas the Troll takes a shot at the modern geek, the lonely and isolated who get their kicks online. Days spent in a dull job and nights on the Internet. It’s edgy stuff: “He’s a volcano ready to explode.”
Sink Like Stones is a beautifully sad song about a strained relationship in which even the small stuff starts to irritate: “I roll a cigarette, you roll your eyes….” It’s a falling-out-of-love song about a disintegrating couple on the edge. It’s been done a million times since pop music began but here it is handled as well as any example you could name.
You And Me Both is a “what the hell are we doing messing up the world” song. It explores the time wasted on bitterness, fear and ignorance and concludes with the simple but honest fact: “We all are people here.”
Bonfire Night gathers together childhood memories of mischief, boys chasing girls, showing off and the exciting thrill of building a bonfire, setting it alight and watching in amazement “the blaze, oh the blaze tore through the sky a million miles high….” Childhood, a time of innocence, naughtiness and a world of adventure. The fact that the song has a backdrop of troubled times in Northern Ireland in ’81 adds to quite a tapestry.
The Boy In The Old Man’s Clothes has a great John Prine vibe to it, We Are The Dead underlines our fears about authority snooping on us (I expect to hear Christy Moore covering this) and Fallen Friends is a lament to break your heart.
The whole album, ten original tracks, flows well. There is gentleness here, sincerity but no shying away from saying what has to be said. Paddy Nash is a great singer/songwriter. You want irrefutable proof? Here it is.
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