Paul Reddick,
(NorthernBlues, 2004)

There's some deeply personal stuff on Villanelle, an album of original songs by Paul Reddick. Angsty lyrics of longing and restlessness abound.

Those who love rural blues and who are willing to ride on Reddick's subdued stream of country-blues restlessness will have a good time listening to these songs, which -- although drenched in melancholy -- are nevertheless free from easy cliches.

The title cut, "Villanelle," is poetic folk, high language with a Cajun feel. The rest of the album is a bit more bluesy, and I would've liked most of the songs to be like this -- but that doesn't mean the other tracks aren't gems. "Big Not Small" has a cool mandolin lick you don't hear every day. And "Luck in Love" made me want to attempt to learn harmonica all over again. "Waves" ("forever rolling, forever rolling on and on and on") feels like it came out of an Alan Lomax collection of hobo songs. "Round This Time of Year" is pure lullaby-blues full of yearning, and "Hook's in the Water" ("My hook's in the water and I can't find my line") is a kind of gospel-blues De Profundis that ends on a hopeful note. I generally don't like songs that use birds as a metaphor for escaping and freedom, but "Winter Bird" is a neat shuffle in which being homesick and alienated doesn't stop Reddick from making a song that makes one's feet race to the dance floor.

A well-crafted but somber album, Villanelle boasts heartfelt and intimate, highly poetic yet accessible lyrics.

- Rambles
written by Carole McDonnell
published 24 September 2005

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