After more than 15 years of reviewing folk CDs, there may be moments where I get somewhat weary of reviewing – until a CD comes along which is such a discovery making it all worthwhile. The Paul McKenna Band is one of such discoveries. Its debut album suggests that this is the most impressive new band I have heard for quite a while!
This young Scottish band is centred around Paul McKenna, exquisite singer/songwriter with a charismatic voice. However, the band around him is what makes the CD special indeed. The music sparkles and swings, is full of life and the CD captures an energetic “live” feeling of the band.
Instrumentally, the band combines the skills of Young Scottish Musician of the Year fiddler Ruairidh Macmillan, groovy bodhran playing from Ewan Baird, atmospheric flute from Sean Gray and David McNee on Bouzouki. The band sound is perfect and at times breathtaking – equally in lively instrumental sets and beautiful slow ballads.
The songs on the CD are an appealing combination of excellent Paul McKenna songs and new interpretations of old favourites. Paul’s three songs on the album are well crafted, with great lyrics and catchy melodies, stylistically acoustic folk/trad with an appealing modern pop twist to it. The band’s interpretation of trad favourites are similarly impressive, breathing new life into old classics; they include new versions of “The Lea Rig”, “P stands for Paddy”, “The Jolly Beggar” and Ewan McColl’s “Ballad of Accounting”.
This is the very first 2009 CD I have received – still I am sure that this will be an extremely strong contender to become my “Best CD of 2009″. Absolutely wonderful stuff – I am looking forward to more albums of this superb band!