Thursday 12 April 2012

Paul Cook & The Chronicles - Volume 1

Album review by KevW

This article also appears on

Poor Paul Cook. You can't help but feel for the man when listening to these chronicles of lost love, broken hearts and generally not having the rub of the green on this funny old thing we call life. Channelling personal or fictional sorrow and sadness into music is, of course, the oldest trick in the book. But more often than not (and unless you're feeling similarly sorry for yourself and wish to wallow in your own misery) you just wish they'd stop bloody winging and get over it. The heartache and melancholy that oozes from every pore of 'Volume 1' doesn't have that effect, with Cook crafting a light and optimistic album from the shadows of despair.

There's no downcast dreariness or doleful indulgence here, instead we have a bundle of touchingly sweet songs lifted by a truly endearing vocal and understated production. Previous single 'Guilt' has been slowed and simplified for the album, a trick that's rarely a wise plan of action but fits perfectly in this instance, the gentle strings and slide guitar adding air of stately sincerity. Too many singer-songwriters of this ilk resort to a default setting of strumming and strained vocal chords, two ingredients for boredom that Cook neatly avoids for the duration of this record.

'Six Places', like most of 'Volume 1' is driven by crisply picked guitar and equally gleaming vocals that successfully unearth hope amongst the ruins of heartbreak. The delicate elegy of 'Candlelight' achieves a similar feat. "I'm tired of girl trouble, me and this crazy world" he sings on 'Girl Trouble', and although most people have been there, done it and bought the CD collection, the well trodden subject matter doesn't grate and that's a testament to the quality of these songs and their delivery. By the end of closing track 'I Forgive You' you don't want to tell Paul Cook to cheer the hell up, you want to give him a manly hug, buy him a beer and reassure him that there are plenty more fish in the sea. And then get him to play his songs for you all over again.

Paul Cook & The Chronicles' website

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