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Private Label PMB001CD

This is the fourth album from the Paul McKenna Band who celebrate their 10th anniversary this year.

Produced (unmistakably) by John McCusker, it has a rich and polished sound and utilises the additional talents of some of Scotland's finest musicians – John himself and Mike Vass, and James Lindsay's double bass adds a depth and breadth to the overall sound. It's also a nice touch to have Rod Patterson's distinctive voice included in the excellent arrangement of Jim Reid's lovely song, Greylag Geese.

The mix of material is well balanced with four of Paul's own songs sitting nicely beside some well chosen others – Peggy Seeger's Song Of Choice (which is still very relevant today), Alastair Hulett's He Fades Away, and a great version of the traditional Banks Of The Moy – all delivered by Paul's unique precise, vibrato voice.

Paul's own songs are well crafted and cover themes as diverse as being away from home, staying positive and justice issues. The opening song, Long Days, is particularly good with a great chorus which will go down well with a live audience. The tasteful arrangements perfectly complement the songs and Ewan Baird's subtle percussion helps the whole thing to gel. Personally, I'm not so sure about the couple of purely instrumental tracks but they are well delivered and there are a couple of good tunes in there. Overall they fit nicely with the feel of the production and provide a contrast to the vocal tracks.

A tasty offering and a slick production from a band which has reached maturity and is going from strength to strength.

Jim Byrne

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This album was reviewed in Issue 114 of The Living Tradition magazine.