Paul Smith was a brilliant pianist with technique on the level of an Oscar Peterson, but a musician who never really dedicated himself to jazz. After playing early on with Johnny Richards in 1941 and spending a couple years in the military, he worked with Les Paul (1946-1947) and Tommy Dorsey(1947-…
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Paul Smith is known as the frontman of Maximo Park. His energetic spirit was too big to stay in group so he decided to release two solo albums. Now we have his third solo album under the name Paul Smith and the Imitations. Eclectic as he is, he experimented with the sound and distances himself from the Maximo Park. I must admit he offered something remarkable. He stayed within indie rock genre but added some folk and art rock elements. Paul is a diligent worker who is trying to keep interest to himself but everything he does is so nonchalant. I get the impression he really enjoys making music.
Lyrically, he is more mature than ever before and that’s how we got a lot of hermetic and metaphoric spots saturated with various allusions. Seriousness is there but the whole album is fun and easy to listen to. Paul’s vocal is always in slow tempo.
Opening track The Deep End is romantic song with subtle guitars and Paul’s soft vocal. He sings about meaning of dreams, about the rise and the fall. Break Me Down was a good choice for a first single because it represents the essence of the album – a little bit fun, a little bit melancholic. The album is full of contradictions, both lyrically and musically. From easy notes to heavy, sad melodies. Maybe it is confusing when you listen to it for the first time but you get used to it because you realize there are no contradictions and everything makes perfect sense.
All the Things You’d Like To Be and I Should Never Know are true love songs with a sprinkle of desire that never fall into a cliché. They are keeping the balance between something familiar and something fresh.
Coney Island (4 of Julyth) is an indie brit pop number that bring the most joy to the album. Everything smells like freedom. The weakest tracks are The Golden Glint and Fill In The Blanks because they are standing out from the concept.
Fluid Identity is a kick ass closing track, dark and transparent.
Even though Contradictions has some weak spots, Paul Smith is building his concept very carefully. Bravo.