Paul Creane & the Changing Band,
Tommy Black & the Twelve Days of Lucy
(independent, 2012)

As reviewers and critics, we sometimes think we've heard it all and have gotten jaded by the process. When a new CD comes along, we truly want it to be wonderful and we crave a musical experience that offers us something a little different, something that speaks to our soul, but often, we play a new disc and feel we've heard it before.

But then, along comes something like Tommy Black & the Twelve Days of Lucy. Paul Creane's new release blows all of your expectations to hell; it is familiar but different, traditional but unique, pleasant but jarring, accessible but deep, and as dark as any piece of art you have come across this year. It is, simply put, one of the best albums of 2012.

Paul Creane sings in a low growl, generally as if the effort to get the words out causes him pain and his vocal approach fits these songs perfectly. This album is not a slice of lemon meringue pie. You listen to lyrics like "Rock and roll / Nobody loves me but for rock and roll" or "I am a hired killer in this town / Give me a tenner, I'll put someone down / and the world'll keep rolling around / and I know God heard me / I know God heard me," and you don't feel like leaping onto the dance floor.

No, what you feel is the need to take a deep look into your own heart and soul. Creane has created a meditative album, an honest album that is filled with true feelings and true emotion.

Not to mention beautiful music. Creane said he originally wrote these songs for a solo album, but when he sung them he realized he needed the band behind him. He assembled one fine group of musicians. Essentially a folk-rock band, led by mandolin, dobro, bass and drums, he also has a horn section and strings that he uses to great effect, for example, creating tension by presenting dark lyrics surrounded by bright and pretty instrumentation -- a loping banjo over a sad lyric, for example.

A couple of upbeat songs keep the album from being a downer. "Name Like Water" will have you singing along, as will "All for You, Baby," a top-10 hit in Creane's native Ireland.

Here's the deal: I don't care what you have to do to get your hands on the record. Do it. If you have to steal a car to get to a well-stocked indie record shop, be careful but do it. You will not regret it.

music review by
Michael Scott Cain

22 September 2012

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