‘Paths that Wind’ by The Paul McKenna Band - an album with distinctive appeal(March 01, 2016)
With each successive album The Paul McKenna Band reinforces my view that their brand of folk combines bold invention and folk tradition in a seamless blend, after 10 years and countless miles of touring they’re releasing their fourth studio album ‘Paths that Wind’ ... and it’s going to further reinforce their reputation, which sadly is not as widely recognised in some circles as it deserves. The combination of McKenna’s highly expressive and readily identifiable voice, backed by sizzling strings, explosive percussion with soaring flute and whistles, give this album its distinctive appeal. There’s an influence that moves through a spread of reactions, to make feet take a ready step, express feelings of joy and sadness or engage with its powerful narratives.
Inspiration for foot-tapping comes from tunes like ‘Mistaken Instrument’, songs like the traditional ‘The Banks of The Moy’ show how close they sit to the roots of their music, while the startlingly honest original ‘He Fades Away’ and the equally frank ‘The Dream’ demonstrate an ability to compose songs with strong messages. There’s a lovingly crafted rendition of Peggy Seeger’s ‘Song Of Choice’, which McKenna delivers perfectly, and Rod Paterson’s voice lends just the right edge to ‘Greylag Geese’ and to close ‘Dodging the Weather’ lures you out of your seat.
Playing on the album are Paul McKenna (vocals, guitar, bouzouki) Sean Gray (flute, whistles, guitar, vocals) Ewan Baird (bodhran, cajon, vocals) Conor Markey (tenor banjo, bouzouki, mandolin, vocals) with guests Mike Vass (fiddle, tenor guitar, mandolin, vocals) James Lindsay (double bass) Rod Paterson (vocals) and John McCusker (fiddle, cittern, harmonium).
‘Paths that Wind’ releases 11 April, 2016 and you can find it here: www.paulmckennaband.com
Review: Tim Carroll