Paul Brady, Song Book (Compass Records, RTE, 2003)

I first saw Paul Brady in about 1968 or '69 as part of The Johnstons folk group, upstairs at Yardarms Club in the Bull and Stirrup Hotel in Chester. In those days the Johnstons were one of the cornerstones of my record collection and had a sound envied by thousands of folk fans. I think they made about nine albums before disbanding and going their separate ways. I often wondered why they split. A lot of water has passed under the bridge since then and Paul Brady has changed his musical direction. The Paul Brady we hear on this album is a contemporary pop singer who writes and co-writes some super fine songs -- and how!

Paul's apprenticeship, (before joining the Johnstons), was served in R&B and Soul bands. So you might say he has returned to his first love. Paul is a brilliant singer with age and soul in his gutsy voice, he really needs no introduction. So if you like Soul/Blues bands and you want to hear some original material, then this is the album for you.

You might say this is really the album from the film of the book! For in August 2002 RTE television, Irelandís national TV station, filmed a six programme series featuring Paulís music, called The Paul Brady Songbook. This was only shown in Ireland from October through December of that year. This album is just a selection of the recordings. I understand there is also a 3 hour DVD available of the entire series of programs. Just to confuse you it is also called The Paul Brady Songbook.

Paul Brady continues to push out the boundaries of Irish contemporary music and what has come to be known as Irish Folk Rock. Paul has successfully crossed over from traditional folk to the world of pop music. Many of his songs are collaborations with other luminaries such as Carole King, Will Jennings, Ronan Keating, Conner Reeves and Mark Hudson. Songs like "Oh What a World," "I Will Be There," and "The Long Goodbye" are now regarded by many as standards.

For me, one of the best songs on the album is "Nobody Knows," but the bonus track "The Hawana Way," sounds very commercial and has been released as a single. (Strangely it reminds me of something Phil Collins sang -- but I can't remember what was it called.) This track is also enhanced, and if you put it in the CD drive of your computer there is a short video to watch. This is a very commercial album and is sure to be a big seller. You can read all about what Paul is up to on Compass Records Web site and Paul Brady's web site.

[Peter Massey]