Post Destroyer Post

Just back from an engaging week in Istanbul, so catching up with things. I want to let you know, if you haven’t received our recent statement to The Destroyers’ mailing list, that I have parted company with the band. This has not been an easy decision, then separation seldom is.  Needless to say its been  a wonderful journey over the past six years and a privilege that we received  such great energy, appreciation and support.

I’d like to say a personal thank you to audience members everywhere who helped fund our work, by coming to gigs, buying merch, Tshirts and badges,  spreading the word and pledging towards our Hole in The Universe album;   To the promoters who hosted us, to the reviewers, the radio and TV presenters, and especially for me,  those who sang along with such passion. As songwriter that was a wonderful accolade.

I wish my talented partners well and happy to see them keep the name alive. I am looking forward to reconnecting with pending projects. If you are interested in keeping in touch with my work beyond The Destroyers, then this is the place to visit. Leave a comment or email me if you have any particular request and I’ll be happy to help if I can.

“Spring has returned and she’s busy unpacking”. Enjoy x

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What have you been up to recently, Paul?

I realise that almost three months have passed since the last post, so I’ll bring you up to date.

You may or may not be aware that I had my treasured Larrivee guitar stolen on my way back from the final recording session for ‘Crossing The Sound’. Obviously this was a bit of blow, made worse by the fact that on a technicality my MU insurance didn’t cover it. So I ended the year with a new album and no guitar, and my best efforts to trace it led nowhere!

Rather than curse the dark, I decided to distract myself by concentrating on a few writing projects that deserved attention. Subsequently, I have written a fresh draft of my novel The Rocky Road; a new children’s story called Wave Sweeper;  a final draft of a short story called Dusty; reworked a short screenplay called Click Track (formerly The Boy Who Loved Trains ) for consideration by an Irish production company and started a second draft of a stage play – Where were you when Che died?

Plenty to keep me busy on the writing front! Only downside, too many hours hunched over a keyboard has not done my back any favours, and I must say I do tend to work in very long bursts without due concern for ergonomics or posture. (I must learn from this!)

Performance wise, things have been quiet. The Destroyers ended a productive year with our annual festive gig at PoW, Moseley in December. In January I had the pleasure of playing Forked – an spoken word gig in Plymouth hosted by the wonderful  Elvis McGonnagle. Various regional stations have been playing tracks from ‘Crossing The Sound’ and I’m eager to take that out with Mike Hurley, Nick Jurd and others later this year. Other performance plans are afoot and will be uploaded here in due course. Meanwhile I ‘m heading to Istanbul at the end of the month and on my return in March I will be playing solo sets in Birmingham on 12th , Cheltenham on 17th and a Bedworth on 23rd.

Any avid readers out there who might wish to read some of my fiction and give me feedback, please drop me an email.

More gigs to be announced soon.

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So, tell us briefly about your new album?


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Final Mix

Just returned from Magic Garden Studios having ‘mastered’ this album and I’m very pleased with the outcome! It has been a great pleasure once again working with Gavin Monaghan and his excellent assistant Joe Murray as on The Glen. If I had met a producer like Gavin years ago this would not be my second solo album!

On the other hand I’m glad because my work has matured with years of live performance, songs  have found their full flavour and are ready for consumption. Besides Gavin was still a boy when the opening song “Unpacking” was written. As I listened to it tonight, with Mike Hurley’s splendid arrangement,  I saw myself more than forty years earlier performing the song for the very first time, just after I’d written it, Belfast, Spring 1969. This is the oldest song on the album but chronology is not the main reason why I have chosen it as the opening track. The song is a celebration of Spring in the North.  After three years on the road I was back home and seeing it with fresh eyes. The world was full of optimism and vigour, on the threshold of a period of intense change globally and locally. The first moon landing happened later that summer. But, so did the arrival of troops on the streets of Belfast.

Where Napoleon in stony silence lies
his ear to the ground
as up the lough in the morning
reinforcements steam towards town

I suppose that this album is really about change. Change turbulent like spring, full of bright surprises and dark disappointments. Politics change, ethics change, people change. Familiar landscapes morph and only a few prominent features and elements are left as reminders of who we once were. This  album is a view of that change through the prism of exile and the distance of time.

Coming home from across the water
when dawn dips bloody hands into the sea
and the hooded moon turns blind eye on the headland
lighthouse flashing a reluctant refugee

It is across the trajectory of those decades of upheaval that these songs are pitched. They are about people and places. They tell stories of love and betrayal, allegiance and manipulation, dislocation, despair and hope. Ultimately, though ‘Crossing The Sound’ is about the fragile triumph of love over hate.

We sail beneath the rainbow
out on a troubled tide
caught in sharp collision
tall waves on every side
between island and mainland
all certainties are drowned
and only hope keeps us afloat
crossing the sound

I can’t wait for you to hear it and savour  sweet trumpet by Sam Wooster, the sweeping bow of fiddler Ann Jones, the warm deep double bass of Nick Jurd, the rippling keys of Mike Hurley’s piano and the soft shuffle of his drumming like the sea washing through shingle. A massive thank you to Peter Maxwell Dixon for his sensitive expertise in  recording piano, trumpet, fiddle and bass on location. Vocals, Guitar, drums and backing vocals were recorded by Gavin at the Magic Garden.

If you wish to reserve a special numbered/signed limited first edition ‘Tin with album and lyric book’ please visit the shop and order now. And believe me this would make an elegant and unique gift for a friend this season.

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Crossing the Sound – update

I’ve been mega busy over recent weeks with pre-production for this exciting new album;  confirming schedules, instigating artwork, reconnecting with songs, polishing lyrics, giving them the individual detailed attention they deserve before release.

The songs are drawn from various times in my life and while their thematic continuity is less obvious than in the singular focus of The Glen, they are connected by a sense of place.  I want this album to be like a many surfaced prism through which I have directed the individual light of each song in the hope of conjuring an aural rainbow for your appreciation.

It is a pleasure working with Mike Hurley again as arranger and instrumentalists. He has a sensitive, direct approach to arranging which is ideal for this material, not bound to conventions but determined to release the individual character of each song. A tall order especially with a tight schedule and a limited palette of instruments to work with. But I consider Mike to be an exceptional musician, schooled but steeped in improvisation,  a perfect collaborator for this project, simply beautiful.

These limitations are both pragmatic and artistic choices on my part.  You’d have to  come from Xfactorland to imagine  any luxury in the production of an independent album by an independent artist. But I’m not complaining, I’m happy doing. I believe in working within limitations to create maximum impact with minimum resources. Besides when you’ve got songs acting like prisoners of conscience, battering on the cells of your brain demanding to be released, what choice have you? To be honest it really would be worth supporting these guys when they come out.

So order a copy here – from 1st November. Spread the word. Ideal Christmas present.  In your hands before release on 7th December.

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“Heart” (sometimes called 10th of July) is from  The Glen and featured in my set at Moseley Folk Festival in September where I was accompanied by Mike Hurley and Nick Jurd who played on the album. Although The Glen was released last December, because of divergent busy schedules, this was only the second time we played live together. Therefore I was all the more delighted that the good folk at Qwoonsweird Productions took the initiative and captured the set.  Over the next few weeks I’ll  be sharing more.


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Crossing the Sound

After some thought I have opted to call the new album “Crossing the Sound” which is also the title of one of the 10 tracks. Recording dates have now been set and it’s full steam ahead towards the December release.

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Autumn, in the natural lull after a busy season of gigs, solo and with The Destroyers, a welcome time for reflection, personal projects and  forward planning. At the forefront of my agenda is a new solo album which I’m excited about. Provisionally called “Under Napoleon’s Nose” the album draws together a dozen songs, some old, some new that all have a thematic resonance with the title which is not as obscure as it might initially seem. It references a prominent feature in the Belfast landscape where I grew up, Napoleon’s Nose, a basalt cliff on the Cavehill which when viewed from the city below presents like a profile. The selected songs are a mix of visions, fictions, celebrations and lamentations. I intend to work with the same team as last year’s production of The Glen with possibly a few additional instruments and voices and hopefully the same schedule. Planning is still in its early stages but I’ll be posting regularly on progress.

Meanwhile The Glen is now available as a digital download. Obviously I would prefer people to buy the album because it was conceived as such, however, this option allows you to select individual tracks also. There is also a free PDF lyric booklet to accompany the album.

Also available as download is the ‘single’ – Shoplifters Talkin’ Blues/Hijack which also come with free lyric sheet. You’ll find album and single

Finally as you will see above, a recent portrait of me by John Davenport features in this upcoming exhibition. John was generous and allowed me to look better fed and more substantial than I actually am.

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