Review: Small Town Boy – Paul Bell
Paul Bell's Small Town Boy is 36 minutes of pure, unadulterated pop/acoustic bliss.
Ferociously optimistic, the album brims with faith, hope and love.
Mid tempo opening track Bend sets the mood as Paul talks about a storm that causes branches to bend but not break.
"When our hearts grow dry and hard / I feel like we've been pushed too far / But weighed down by December snow will we buckle or will we grow?"
The Nottingham based songwriter has marketed himself as an "all round nice guy" and that's exactly the impression you get from listening to his music.
There are hints of biblical themes in lyrics such as "look to where your treasure lies", but they're also wrapped up in contemporary references to California and the A38.
As a talented guitar player, Paul's ability to match his interesting chord progressions with genuinely original lyrics is unparalleled in much of Christian music today.
'In our hands' is one of his most accomplished songs. The first 60 seconds are packed full with everything from a sensitive but brilliant guitar riff to insights about where true love can be found. It's a moving piece of songwriting that touches the head and heart simultaneously.
Track four is cleverly titled 'Four'. Here Paul's cheeky side makes an appearance. "I wish that I was four / I'd get to dress up more/ I'd spend more time outdoors" is the opening line and the track continues in the same vein. It would be cute when he snored, he'd get Calpol when he's ill and he'd have ketchup with everything.
It's quirky and cutesy. The kind of joke-song you might listen to once or twice in a live setting. It's a little strange to find that Paul has gone to such lengths with professional production (Dan & Matt Weeks have done a remarkable job) and instrumentation to record this little ditty and put it on the album. Although the track brings a smile it also clashes with the rest of the album which is more thoughtful in tone.
There's no doubt Small Town Boy is the best of Paul's four albums. Whether he's being silly or sensible, Paul always entertains his audiences. It's exciting to find real lyrical insight on any album. But to find buckets of it from an unlikely web geek is quire remarkable!
Songs such as 'River' and 'No love lost' will delight fans of James Taylor and Jack Johnson. These 9 tracks are well worth the mere £5 Paul is asking for. For more information visit PaulBellMusic.com