Paul Childers - Naked Poetry
Sometimes you just know. It’s easy to get a sense that Paul Childers is meant for sticking around before the first song ends. He has such smooth assurance, such certainty about his delivery, and a sharp sense of what he wants to accomplish with each song. The thirteen songs on Naked Poetry are polished while still quite connected to visceral, engaged vocals that never sound one step removed from the experience of the song. Childers’ unusual command over sometimes complex material lacks any sense that Childers is uncomfortable and his effortless melodic and vocal glide through the individual performances is truly bracing to hear. His skills are obvious from the first, but they never threaten to overwhelm thanks to the artistry of his performances and the excellent production he receives is a big part of its appeal. Naked Poetry is a powerful statement to open a career and its resounding impact cuts across genre lines and makes it a wonderful listening experience.
It will move many from the first. “Music Will Pull You Through” reflects an essential truth about Paul Childers’ art – even at its most serious, Childers’ songs never abandon hope entirely and believe brighter dawns are ahead with the help we have in our lives. The message in the opener isn’t new, but the single mindedness he shows in this performance gives it bracing urgency. “The Art of Being Twenty” doesn’t have quite the same sense of urgency, but it does strike a memorable groove, the second of many memorable grooves on this release, and Childers serves up a highly evocative vocal that vividly dramatizes the lyric. “Why Don’t You Stay” finds him taking his first swing on the album at an R&B ballad and the results are quite satisfying. There are few outright instrumental breaks on the album; this is a collection where the band genuinely plays as such rather than sounding like a group of soloists tossed together and chomping at their bit. When there are some brief instrumental spotlights, like on this song, they are quite memorable.
“At Our Own Pace” shows a little sleight of hand. It seems to begin as a piano driven ballad, but soon shifts gears into a delicious mid-tempo saunter that oozes confidence. “My Love of the Rain” goes in a much different direction. It opens with classical overtones before transitioning into an exquisitely crafted ballad. It’s quite amazing to hear how much Childers does with such a seemingly simple emotion and love. Another of the finest pop moments on Naked Poetry comes with the effortless charm surrounding “No One Goes Dancing Anymore”. He has a real penchant for crafting top notches choruses that sweep listeners up into the song’s world and this is one of the album’s best examples of that serving the release so well. The singer/songwriter sensibility informing much of the album reaches another high point with the tracks “Perfect Man” and “Disclosure”. They are both moodier than most songs on Naked Poetry, but the latter is more so. One of the album’s best qualities is this sort of diversity. Paul Childers is rarely content to follow one route and the wide-open creative vision he shows makes this collection all the more memorable.