Over the last few years I have been fortunate enough to have been able to hear Gramsci’s two most recent albums, ‘Inheritance’ and ‘The Hinterlands’, so I was quite surprised to hear that Paul McLaney had decided to release a solo album. I was even more taken aback when I realised that this was just Paul behind a microphone (with a small amount of reverb) and an acoustic guitar, taking his music in a new direction. No tricks, nothing to hide behind, just one man sat on a stool picking his guitar and telling his stories. I love the words used by the label to describe this, “Flaws are an integral part of being human. There is truth in simplicity. Breathing in, breathing out. There is wisdom in naivety. Instinct wrestles with knowledge. Songs in the bellies of acoustic guitars. Meditations in every moment we allow them the space to bloom. As the North attracts the needle, that persistent pull towards one’s own personal legend. Ten songs. One guitar. One voice. An endless conversation”

There is the feeling within this of a fragility combining with a hidden strength as Paul shares his soul with the world. In some ways this is reminiscent of the more thoughtful pieces by Al Stewart or Cat Stevens and certainly feels it is from a bygone age and belongs somewhere 50 years ago as opposed to the present day. There is a huge amount of depth and passion here, just from a single-tracked guitar and single voice, and I am sure much of the power would have been lost if these songs had been arranged for a full band. Paul’s gentle baritone is perfectly suited for this, carrying plenty of emotion within as he gently sings his stories with no strain or force, using the power of his words to get the messages across. This is a beautiful piece of art, something which is full of passion and delights.

Rating: 9/10