Review : Paul Buchanan - Mid Air
MusicomhEight years in the making, and the best part of three decades since The Blue Nileís heartbreaking debut A Walk Across The Rooftops, comes this understated gem from Paul Buchanan, the Glasgow trioís erstwhile frontman, on his own label. Written in the early hours at his kitchen table and in the wake of the death of a close friend and the slow disintegration of the band, Mid Air channels the ghosts of his previous best work.
Now 56, Buchanan still possesses an ache of a voice and imbues unusual images ("cars in the garden", "jesus on the telephone", "summerís on its way, like a millionaire") with a daydream-like quality. Minimally produced at a friendís house on the Scottish East Coast, the album consists of 14 world-weary keenly observed micro-symphonies (most are less than three minutes long). Buchananís vocals and dancing piano playing are bolstered only by airy synthetic tapestries of strings that float in and hover over closing choruses, as if wary of waking the sleeping city.
Love is the overriding theme, with the opening title track setting a template of yearning in simple heartbreaking details: "The buttons on your collar, the colour of your hair, I think I see you everywhere." Buy A Motor Car dreams of an escape from the claustrophobia of a relationship, yet maintains that sense of gravity, of pulling back towards home and family, while Newsroom is loneliness distilled into a whisky glass as lights go out on empty buildings, and perhaps, slowly on life. The "tears in the car park" depicted in Wedding Party are as devastatingly tangible as the "late night train" windows he sang of years ago....full text
ExpressIt was the space and lyrical intensity of the music which resonated.
So singer Paul Buchananís first solo album, recorded nearly 30 years after his former groupís debut album, A Walk Across The Rooftops, is not particularly startling for simply being voice and piano.
These 14 short pieces are melodic, beautifully crafted and definitely not for the broken-hearted....full text
BbcThe Blue Nile never sold lorry-loads of albums, but for converts to their unique fusion of romantic melancholy and robust hope they remain one of the finest, most quietly righteous bands of all time. The Glasgow trio who floated effacingly onto no scene in particular in the mid-80s have parted, and singer Paul Buchanan, now 56, releases his solo debut. Itís unconscionably beautiful, and may be the most moving, precious record of 2012.
Sparse in texture, it yields an almost-overwhelming emotional kick, best received in the wee small hours. Buchanan carries the torch of Sinatraís sensitive-masculine phrasing like no other. His wilfully imperfect vocals defy pat resolutions, hanging in the air like smoke plumes. Itís about the notes he leaves out, the spaces between, which, regarding loss, heartbreak and the yearning for beauty, say it all.
Itís mostly just voice and piano, with simple, effective melodies knowingly offering glimpses and echoes of earlier peaks. On My True Country, he sings "far above the chimney tops / take me where the bus donít stop," channelling the essence of his former bandís A Walk Across the Rooftops. The lyrics throughout breathe fresh life into time-honoured imagery: snow, starlight, sky. "I want to live forever," he sings on the title-track, "and watch you dancing in the air."...full text
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