Songs From The Heart

Songs from the heart by Paul Goulding is a finally curated collection of songs, written by others and offers a fine mixture of the well-known and celebrated such as Dougie McClean, Eric Bogle, Peggy Sieger and Mr Jimmy Nail, as well as other, less recognisable names, but more of those later.

The title provides an immediate glimpse of the contents, as if the album has an overall feel, it is a wistful, almost melancholic, reflective look at life, though counterintuitively, much of it celebrates the links between the past and the future, questioning, tinged with sadness yet not without hope – Eric Bogle’s ‘If Wishes Were Fishes’[ being a case in point.. All sung clearly and precisely throughout, meaning that the lyrical content is very much to the fore and can be appreciated, while subsequent plays will reveal the understated excellent musical accompaniment, but more of that later.

Having chosen to honour some of the finest writers, Paul has chosen to record them in his own voice, staying true to himself, rather than simply attempting to reproduce the originals, and he is to be applauded for that.

Another hugely positive aspect of the album are the liner notes, in which Peter identifies the writers of each of the chosen songs, along with a description of their meaning – a practice that I would love to see more singers adopt, whether on CD or at a live appearance – rather than assuming that everyone knows what is being sung. As a consequence of information gratefully received, I have been introduced to a variety of previously unknown songwriters, all of whom bear further investigation, with a special mention for York based singer/songwriter Stan Graham, ‘All The Blame’ is possibly the saddest song I have heard in a long while, an intimate version of female disappointment and self-recrimination following the break up of a relationship. Apparently dedicated to a friend of the author – but at the time of its acquisition she had not yet heard it. Paul offers a fine version, yet leaving me wondering how it would sound delivered by a female voice in a way that could echo Marianne Faithfull’s version of ‘The Ballad of Lucy Jordan’.

Having mentioned the instrumental side of things without expanding, Paul focuses on guitar and voice throughout and where he is not flying solo, is multi-instrumentally accompanied by Nick Marshall, whose own album was positively received in these parts. Besides musical contributions, Nick has also produced the album, to the same high standard as his own work, giving Peter’s voice and his lyrical choices the clarity they demand. Additionally, Nick’s ‘When The Waters Rise’ makes it onto the album. A reminder of the perils of climate change and the foolishness of ignoring the warnings. This is followed on the album by a Peggy Seeger composition, ‘How I Long For Peace’, and while the title says it all, it is to be remembered that both the thoughts, hopes and creations of the older generation are well worth listening to, having been taken from the 2021 album ‘First Farewell’

Overall, an interesting, thoughtful and much enjoyed selection of songs, well delivered and for those sufficiently blessed to live in and around the Lake District, definitely one to catch at acoustic events around the area. Thanks Paul!