Paul Bond “Sunset Blues”

Concerto Records, 2021

Debut solo outing full of warm sound and natural charm.

Paul Bond "Sunset Blues"Paul Bond is an artist who has been around for a while, working on his musical chops as a session pianist with many acts on the Dutch music scene, notably Van Wyck. He formed his own band, Dandelion, in 2014, and they have released two full albums, ‘Everest’ (2016) and ‘Laika, Belka, Strelka’ (2019).

Now comes ‘Sunset Blues’, his debut solo collection, a 7 track mini album that showcases songs in classic singer-songwriter mode, with a distinctive Americana feel. This is work that carry echoes of Gordon Lightfoot, James Taylor, and perhaps most of all, the late, much-missed, Neal Casal.

Opening with the catchy title track, reviewed elsewhere in Americana UK by Jonathan Aird, it sets the scene, both musically and lyrically. Bond notes that much of this record was influenced by him adjusting to the prospect of becoming a new father, and it begins with the words “It was near the snow-peaked mountains, only yesterday, when you told me that our lives would change”.  The music is souffle-light; with gorgeous, rippling acoustic guitars, and the lightest of bass and percussion, it’s possible to sense the sun-dappled light through the trees on a mountain slope. A really lovely introduction to the record.

Bond has been working Ed Brooks, a mastering engineer who has also worked with the likes of the Fleet Foxes, and this seems a really worthwhile partnership, as the record has a warmth, lightness and space that compliments the songs beautifully. There is much of the natural world in Bond’s lyrics, and this is captured in the audio of the record – the picked acoustic and subtle harmonica touches in ‘Season of the Acorn’, the dancing piano lines in ‘Same Song, Different Groove’ and ‘Sweet Marie’.

‘The Young and the Cheap’ brings a touch of New Orleans-swagger to the music, and an unusual and plaintive call for good up-and-coming bands to get their just financial rewards. Thankfully, it is wrapped in an entertaining story rather than a soap-box rant, with some choice, wry lines – “The owners left hand praised them, while his other hand jeered at their guts to ask for a beer”. 

Final track ‘Goodbye My Love’ closes on a delicate note, with a delightful rhythm, and the most yearning of melodies and orchestration, bringing the collection to a richly satisfying conclusion.

‘Sunset Blues’ is like a walk in nature, cloaked alternately in springtime and autumnal tones; Bond’s writing and voice contain the deftest of touches, making it a truly inviting prospect to join him on his journeys.

8/10
8/10

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