Mick Paul 2021
Venerated English multi-instrumentalist eventually ventures out on his own – in the company of friends.
It took Mick Paul more than four decades to become a writer in his own right – after playing on stage and in the studio with a string of prominent artists and then joining David Cross for regular ensemble albums such as "Sign Of The Crow" and one-off endeavors like "Another Day" that was laid down in the company of David Jackson. Both veterans are here, on the bassist’s first solo debut, which, nevertheless, doesn’t gravitate neither towards KING CRIMSON nor VAN DER GRAAF, while displaying all the symptoms of progressive rock fever.
Still, surprises are aplenty here from the record’s start, as there’s no customary build up to it. Jinian Wilde steps up to the microphone right away to cut through synthesizer-produced haze and usher Mick’s passages into “Your Days” – his fingers sliding across four and six strings and adding a human touch to every lick – whose warm, if punchy, balladry will slowly but surely be swirling and expanding with a prospect of grasping the listener’s psyche. That’s the place for “Light Of Silence” whence arrestingly translucent vocal harmonies radiate from behind the gauze of Sheila Maloney’s ivories until the menacing, increasingly unhinged “No Horizon” is laced with Cross’ violin, and the piano-propelled, groovy elegy of the title track, which features Paul’s own voice, takes emotional hold over melodic flow.
At this point the acoustic strum and cymbals’ rustle on “Beneath The Gate” feel most welcome and most delicious, the swell of its velvet bottom-end contrasting the tune’s topline caress and holding sway over “One Way Conversation” where sonic storm rages and gets pacified, allowing Jackson’s flutes to enhance the worried idyll of “Swallows” that should expose Mick’s folk and chamber sensibilities which “Comfort Zone” wraps in catchy riffs and cozy hum. Yet the heavy “Name On You” – ruffled with Paul’s colleague Paul Clark’s guitars – somehow fails to impress beyond displaying the breadth of the bassist’s stylistic outlook, before the funky finale “Morning Skyline” arrives as a quintessential fusion piece, emphasizing his immense instrumental skills.
A tad uneven, “Parallel Lives” is a riveting offering nevertheless, promising many more delights from Mick Paul in the near future.