www.paulmenelessentials.co.uk [Release date 14.02.17]
Paul Menel will be known to many prog rock fans as the lead singer with IQ between 1985 and 1990. However, since then and on this album in particular, he takes a few prog leanings and goes off down many musical avenues, always with a keen ear for a decent melody.
The Essentials are Paul Menel, along with bassist Steve Swift and drummer Tim Churchman (arK/Darwin’s Radio), plus a fair few guest musicians including Vix Vox of Fuzzbox fame. It is produced by Gavin Monaghan who has worked with Robert Plant amongst others.
Paul Menel has a very melodic singing voice ideal for the commercial sounding songs on here like the gentle ‘Walk In My Shoes’ or the title track that does remind me a little of Mike + The Mechanics and nothing wrong in that!
A talented wordsmith, he has a witty touch and makes a point at the same time on ‘Strife’, a tale of ex’s set to a jaunty melody. More trouble ‘n’ strife on the excellent ‘I Told My Last Lie Today’ where Paul Menel teams up with Vix Vox.
Touch of Indian music on ‘They Call Her Leaf’, along with ‘Strife’. one of the most instant songs on here. ‘Crash And Burn’ is the nearest to prog you get on here with the extended and eerie violin playing of Julianne Bourne.
The songs sit well together and there is much to enjoy and discover on here, on an album of finely crafted pop/rock. Special mention to the cover artwork by Graeme Bell and indeed the CD booklet, which top the whole package off nicely. ****
Review by Jason Ritchie
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