Paul_poulton_words. Poulton wraps observation, spiritual discipline, classic gospel, praise and truth inside a light, funky and multicultural covering.

Label: Temporary Music
Time:  12 tracks / 46 mins.

Poulton displays a fascinating bunch of influences. Past works have shown plenty of admiration for Larry Norman, and he clearly has rock sensibilities, but this one (which has been out a while now) has a lot of gospel source material poured into the mix, played with very funky rhythms and a breezy pop sensibility.

Just how good he is at putting his own stamp on things is best seen in the covers. There have been so many versions of “Wade in the Water,” but few can be like this. Light and airy as the rest of the album, it has a key change, some spooky synth lines and (unless I’m crediting intent where there is none) casually and cleverly incorporates a slightly-disguised riff from Stevie Wonder’s “Superstition.”  

Another gospel standard, “Swing Low, Sweet Chariot” seems to have been influenced directly by Eric Clapton’s “Willie and the Hand Jive,” not only in its light funky rhythms, but also a couple of those licks thrown in for colour. He also includes “Since I Laid My Burden Down” to round off the gospel material. His individual effect on these well-known tracks freshens them up well.

He also adds his own songs, which are as well-considered as usual, such as his lament about broken relationships. “I Can’t Stand the Sadness” sounds like a personal response to the hurt of observing marriage breakdown:  “Couples break up / There’s a family shake-up / Nobody knows where the love goes / When madness rips apart the tender heart / and the players get sent back to the start.”

Balancing this, he tails the disc with a lighter-hearted song about worrying (“Lightning might strike / That dog might bite / Go up to town I might get mugged / Go to church I might get hugged”) that is rooted in faith.

“Get in the Spirit” fully unleashes the funk, lifted by some sauntering synth and given extra soul by the backing vocals.

Best of the lot could be “Get Back Temptation,” a confident performance of a defiant lyric with some tasty guitar licks and a couple of very short guitar solos – which is a shame, as they are full of feeling and could well have been longer. As fighting temptation is a daily foundation of discipleship, this anthem is well worth making your own.

“Long Gone” simply doesn’t work – on top of the frail vocals, the badly-pitched harmonies take away from the effect, rather than adding to it. Vocals are generally Poulton’s weak spot, his voice somewhat thin, and needing multi-tracking on some songs to give it more oomph.

With such a relentless bounce in his music, credit must go Denise J. Thompson on drums (no bassist is credited, so I presume it counts as ‘guitars’ and Poulton plays it).

Poulton continues to show his thoughtful side and while the Christian industry has let him escape its clutches, that is their loss. He is free from interference and the pressure to be like everyone else.

He has assembled a decent collection here that is highly individual, endearing and above the standard you might expect from an independent release.

Best 3 downloads: Get Back Temptation, Wade in the Water, I Can’t Stand the Sadness.


Derek Walker

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