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Health & Happiness Hour (Andy Gunn & Vikki Kitson in session) 20 Jan 2016

This week’s on the Medicine Show Radio Health & Happiness Hour - a session from Andy Gunn, Vikki Kitson & Fraser McLean  ft. tour Cam Penner, ft House Concert Hub artist David Starr ft. album Jurra from The Mekons & Robbie Fulks, with classic music from Eddie…

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www.paulwassif.com  

 If you're a British blues guitar player and you can have a photo on your debut album cover which shows three guitarists in the studio together, you've got to feel pretty chuffed if the two extra guitarists are Bert Jansch and Eric Clapton. It's a huge recommendation of Paul Wassif's talent, which has seen him journey from the youthful blast of punk rock to this beautifully mellow and expressive country blues style. 

        Playing acoustic, electric and slide guitar (with a bit of banjo and dobro along the way), Paul Wassif's style on every instrument slips down like the very smoothest of whiskies, till you feel happily suffused by the mood he engenders: this is a very healing sort of blues, a place to rest your worries for a while.  The notes flow easily and beautifully from one to the next and he's one of those musicians who always seems to have time in hand, floating with the feel of the music, never rushed at all.

        More than half of this album consists of songs and tunes written or co-written by Paul Wassif and his theme seems to be that when the troubles come in life, take your time, don't despair - and in all times be true to the people who matter to you. In the liner notes, there's a heartfelt dedication to the people closest to him ("without you I'd have nothing to give, with you, I've got nothing to lose") that captures the tone of his writing perfectly. Apparently, Paul works as a counsellor for a charity, Rehabilitation of Addicted Prisoners Trust, and it's easy to imagine how that work would inform his songwriting, as well as how much playing this music would give him the space to come to terms with the troubled lives that he's involved with.

        The old songs covered here include two railroad songs (900 Miles  and Big Bill Broonzy's Southbound Train), but it's fair to say that Paul's own songs stand up really well, especially Please Don't Leave, one of the songs that features assistance from Messrs Jansch and Clapton. There's a knack for a beautiful melody in Paul's music, which runs from the direct pull on the heartstrings in Please Don't Leave  to the elegant flow of his instrumentals - which have a definitely English pastoral beauty to my ears.  The only thing that undermines this album is the reticence of Paul's vocals; it's a whisky and cigarettes voice that suits the music fine but he never seems strong enough to really take charge of the song - we have to strain a little to catch what sometimes sounds like an apologetic murmur, and it feels like there's a bigger voice in there somewhere just waiting to be let off the leash.  That guitar playing, though: you'd forgive a lot to hear the beauty in Paul Wassif's playing and it's easy to see why his big name mates encouraged him to strike out on his own.

 

John Davy

Views: 270

Tags: Paul, Wassif

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February 2016

1
Lucinda Williams
104 pts.
The Ghosts Of Highway 20
Highway 20 Records
PV,MOV,PKO,MDW
2
Dylan LeBlanc
82 pts.
Cautionary Tales
Single Lock Records
LK,HB
3
Dori Freeman
71 pts.
Dori Freeman
Free Dirt Records
BH,JAB,SP,DH,ML
4
Buddy Miller & Friends
52 pts.
Cayamo Sessions at Sea
New West Records
JB,AR
5
Southside Johnny & the Asbury Jukes
42 pts.
Soultime!
Leroy Records
PJ
6
Amelia White
39 pts.
Home Sweet Hotel
White Wolf Records
MF,DHO
7
Sam Outlaw
38 pts.
Angeleno
Six Shooter Records
BR
8
Gunther Brown
36 pts.
North Wind
Continental
CRS
9
Matty Charles & Katie Rose
35 pts.
Catching Arrows
1906 Records
SZ,BM,FB
10
Kreg Viesselman
34 pts.
To The Mountain
Continental Song City
KG,JF
11
Eric Brace & Peter Cooper
32 pts.
C&O Canal
Red Beet Records
 
12
Anna Laube
28 pts.
Anna Laube
Ahhh… Pockets!
EM
 
Buford Pope
28 pts.
The Poem & The Rose
Unchained Records
MP,PH,BK
 
David Ramirez
28 pts.
Fables
Thirty Tigers
JD
 
Kate Campbell
28 pts.
The K.O.A.Tapes (Vol. 1)
Large River Records
TJ
16
Cam Penner
22 pts.
Sex & Politics
Independent
LM
17
Donnie Fritts
21 pts.
Oh My Goodness
Single Lock Records
JBO,TK
18
Eleanor Friedberger
19 pts.
New View
French Kiss Records
 
 
John Moreland
19 pts.
High on Tulsa Heat
Thirty Tigers
JDO
 
Peter Cooper
19 pts.
Depot Lights: The Songs Of Eric Taylor
Red Beet
NC
21
Marlon Williams
18 pts.
Marlon Williams
Dead Oceans
FCE
 
Nathan Bell
18 pts.
I Don't Do This For Love, I Do This For Love
Stone Barn Records
 
23
Pilgrim
17 pts.
Easy People
Horton Records
 
24
Bob Margolin
16 pts.
My Road
VizzTone
RK
 
David Berkeley
16 pts.
Cardboard Boat
Straw Man Music

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