Paul J. OpenshawPaul J. Openshaw
Album: Barebones
Label: Self Released
Tracks: 12

Another collection of "less is more", unadorned (vox-and-guitar) and unashamedly directly-spoken self-penned songs by Dorset-based Paul. There's not an awful lot that can be said about this fast-passing 35-minute disc, beyond that the songs speak for themselves with commendable honesty and accessibility and in understandable, everyday language - there's no need to worry about issues of interpretation or wilful obscurity of thought or linguistic expression.

Everything I said about Paul's songwriting when reviewing his earlier CDs The Potting Shed and Crop Circles back in 2013 still holds true, so there will be moments when you might consider his ideas a touch over-obvious, and on one or two songs (Florence Nightingale, for instance) a little repetition of a refrain goes a long way (so to speak), but (again) by and large you'll be glad you invested time in this new CD. Interestingly, Paul's chosen to highlight his songwriting consistency quite incidentally by noting the year of composition for each song at the foot of the lyric in the accompanying booklet; we can see that the ten songs here were written over quite a long timespan, with the oldest dating from 1986 and 1990 and the latest (the all-too-familiar sentiment of Where Are We Now?) as recently as March this year.

The best of this new bunch range from the charming nature portrait Hedgehog, the gentle benediction of Striving To Be Someone, the ambivalent India, the searching Spirit and the war memoir Normandy (It Could Have Been Me), whereas at the other extreme I really could have done without Delhi (sic) Belly (Paul doesn't exactly curry favour here!). Still …

David Kidman