Paul Lush “Six Ways from Sunday”

Kaloo Kalay Recordings, 2023

Personal best from a Champion of the World.

artwork for Paul Lush album "Six Ways From Sunday"A long-time sideman with Danny and the Champions of the World, Australian guitarist Paul Lush has lived in London for over twenty-five years, playing gigs far and wide and featuring on countless recordings. Anyone with more than a passing interest in the UK americana scene will have heard him on record or seen him on stage laying down his trademark licks and solos.

What they may not have heard is the voice of Paul Lush, this being the first time he has taken centre stage on vocals. His previous solo project featured Ange Gannon as he felt the songs needed a female singer but here on ‘Six Ways from Sunday’ it’s Lush himself who takes the microphone. Inevitably this makes his second album more personal. Whether the thirteen songs describe real or imagined experience, covering relationship issues and even the mid-life reflections of a fostered child, Lush is able to invest more fully in the song and to better create a connection with the listener.

Singing his own compositions was something Lush had mooted in an interview with AUK following the release of his previous record, ‘And There It Is’ in 2021. His extensive list of contacts has enabled him to call upon some renowned musicians in the making of the new album – Steve Brooks on drums, Alan Gregg on bass, Henry Senior on pedal steel and Danny George Wilson on background vocals. These make up the collective that he calls Araluen, a first Australian word meaning ‘singing waters’ or ‘place of lilies’ and also the name of a tiny gold-mining town in Lush’s native New South Wales.

Recorded and produced in London by the accomplished Sean Read, who also contributes keyboards, percussion and backing vocals, the arranging and playing is, well, lush. The blend of mandolin, guitars and pedal steel is a hallmark of the album and can be heard to great effect on the slow waltz, ‘Ever at a Loss’ a song that puts one in mind of Robbie Robertson’s ‘Evangeline’.

‘You Could’ve at Least Said Something’ echoes Dire Straits’ ‘Tunnel of Love’ with its Mark Knopfler-like guitar and thudding bass. Like the solo in ‘Soft Pedalling’, the strength of the playing stems from the bitterness at the heart of the song.

‘You Just Know When You Know’ is another song in ¾ time, a swing form lending itself to the maudlin sentiments of a song like Hank Williams’s ‘I’m So Lonesome I Could Cry’ and perfect here for the retro-twang of Lush’s guitar and Senior’s evocative pedal-steel.

The versatile musical styles in evidence on the album demonstrate the wide influences Lush encountered in his formative years and in half a lifetime as a guitar for hire, while lyrically, ‘Trail of Tears’ is the stand-out track. Opening with classical acoustic guitar-picking before dropping into another waltz rhythm, the song depicts the Stolen Generations of indigenous Australians forcibly removed from their families by the government.

While the pedal-steel and guitar playing on the album frequently reflect the pathos in his writing, it’s a challenge for Lush’s light voice to reach the same emotional depths. More than a sideman, he can clearly sculpt well-crafted and meaningful songs. Though not yet the finished article as a singer, in ‘Six Ways from Sunday’ Paul Lush has nonetheless completed an impressive solo project.

7/10
7/10

About Chas Lacey 11 Articles
My musical journey has taken me from Big Pink to southern California. Life in the fast lane now has a sensible 20mph limit which leaves more time for listening to new music and catching live shows.
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