Paul McKenna is a powerful vocalist. 'Breathe' the strong opener sees him slip from breathy intimate folk voice to a more soulful growl. Powerful too is the backing from the Paul McKenna Band, drawing on Irish and Scottish roots, with Robbie Greig's and Conal McDonagh's respective Fiddle and Uilleann Pipes. BREATHE, the groups fifth album, is credited to the Paul McKenna Band, to underline the importance of all the players and possibly to avoid endless Internet search confusion with the self help writer and Harry Hill look alike of the same name. 'Fanad Mare', a racehorse song, marries a vocal by Paul with an attack and bite that wouldnt be out of place on a 70s Dick Gaughan LP and the sweet Irish music of 80s Donal Lunny. 'Never Seem To Leave' grabs you with its biting lyric and earworm fiddle part. 'Holding On' is a self penned ballad with an intimate guitar and a lovely vocal with a touch vibrato of make it really tender. 'Broken Houses' is an anthemic song, with powerful lyrics and another strong fiddle guitar hook. 'The Molly May', written by JP Cormier, is a fine song, one of those reflective 'lifetime in a song' pieces that Show Of Hands do so well. The Paul McKenna Band provide beautiful interludes between the verses. Written with acclaimed Canadian songwriter Dave Gunning, 'Beyond The Day' delicately contemplates fate and life after death. Conal's gentle pipes and whistles underline the thoughtful, reflective nature of the song. Those evocative breathy flutes and whistles continue on 'Foreign Land', a, song dealing with the life of the migrant worker, a little more positive and upbeat than Christy Moore's darkly melancholic 'Missing You'.
Folky, Soulful, wrapped in gentle evocative acoustic and traditional instruments, BREATHE, produced by Mike Vass, whispers and croons in your ear. One part Folk Troubadour, one part Soul man delivering thoughtful lyrics and some infectious music.
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