Six years after his last release, the songwriter’s songwriter Paul Brady has returned with his 15th studio album, Unfinished Business, an accomplished set of 11 songs (nine originals and two traditional covers). Paul Brady is an accomplished singer-songwriter who first made his mark in the 1970’s playing traditional music with many famous bands on the Irish folk music scene. Although not a household name, Brady is something of a legend in the Irish rock firmament. His songs have been covered by the likes of Tina Turner and Bonnie Raitt, whilst musicians of the calibre of Eric Clapton and Mark Knopfler have appeared on stage and albums with him. The album takes in his folk and traditional roots, as well as incorporating elements of jazz, rock, blues, and funk to good effect. Playing most of the instruments, Brady shows his full palette of sounds and styles on this release.
Brady’s signature sound blends keyboards with acoustic and electric guitars, drums and bass, all supporting his powerful voice which has something of the same sonic texture as his fellow Irishman, Van Morrison. But, he has more of a modern sound, often blending his voice with a female backing singer, to particularly fine effect during the second track, 'I Love You But You Love Him'. The opening title track, 'Unfinished Business' has jazz chords, a slow rhythm, and a fine narrative tale about old love and regret, blending something of the chanson tradition with a film noir feel.
'Something To Change' blends Brady’s bluesy guitar stabs with a heavy brass section, Hammond organ and an angry diatribe that throughout the years has been a reliable ingredient within Brady’s songwriting. 'Say You Don’t Mean' contains another angry backbeat with a polemic about the state of the world which holds people to account for their actions and words.
The two traditional songs 'The Cocks are Crowing', and the closing track, 'Lord Thomas and Fair Ellender' are well delivered, with a passionate vocal delivery and strong musical support on guitars and harmonica. 'Oceans of Time' is a slow love ballad, and 'I Like How You Think' has slide guitars to the front, a country like backbeat, and something of a mid-career Paul Simon. 'Maybe Tomorrow' is not the theme to The Littlest Hobo, as might be expected, but it's a shuffling folk tune, with a mandolin pushed to the forefront.
If you like some fine songs and some incredibly well recorded instrumental backing, this album is worth checking out. If you're already a fan of Paul Brady, it contains all the qualities you would expect from this talented writer and musician, but if he is a new name to you, then you will find something to like in this well-rounded release.
Unfinished Business is available via Amazon.