Wednesday, May 13, 2015
PADDY NASH & The HAPPY ENCHILADAS: "Laughter & Love"
Label: MadMollyRecords 2015
Review by: Urban "Wally" Wallstrom
From a religious place where they praise ancient Gods such as George Best (RIP) and Van Morrison, The Good Friday Agreement was a major step in the peace process. 'Laughter & Love', by Paddy Nash and The Happy Enchiladas, the next natural step in the whole coming together as one nation under two Gods (Best AND Van the Man). The band from Northern Ireland gives the first impression of a happy family and the honest folks with no worries in the world. However, it's proper craftsmanship and songwriting that touches all kind of subjects from loneliness, minorities, to songs about travel as well as the odd nonsense track.
I have a soft spot for singer/songwriter music and this follows in the grand N.I. tradition of plenty of fun acts. Probably the best to come out of Northern Ireland since the latest effort by Bap Kennedy. The very first thing you'll notice? The harmonies are coming at ya' like flies on a picnic basket. Injecting a bittersweet after taste to their material, the seven-piece exude passion and an intensity that express honesty and invariability. Paddy was in fact a founding member of the award winning Folk Rock outfit The Whole Tribe Sings, and The Happy Enchiladas consists of Diane Greer (vocals, percussion), Liam McGuigan (guitar, harmonica), Jonny Nutt (bass), Rory Donaghy (guitars), Eddie O'Donnell (piano, organ) and John Spence (drums). They are all important to the overall sound picture. For instance, Paddy and Diane are both singing lead and duets.
"Happiness is a hard old place to find. Some people have been searching all their lives. That moment when you think that you've arrived. And you're last in line". I nearly started to cry as I heard the lyric to "Last In Lane", the instant classic of the genre as well as the introspective journey. Superb track with the sweet harmonica. There was a time when we were "Brave", now we turn and look the other way. The silent majority is the real problem today. "Wish", the excellent mid/uptempo track and the likes of Jackson Browne and Van Morrison would be darn proud to be mentioned in the same sentence.
The old Country shines through in "Cliches". "Adam & Evan", the political correct as well as every thinking person's tune about same sex marriage, but the song itself, in my humble opinion one of the worst tracks on the record with its honky-tonk and be-bop sound. "The Sunshine Blues", similar to the country/blues which the man-in-black used to perform. Closing track of "Stop Me From Dreaming" goes through several different stages of uptempo guitar rock inspired by the likes of Neil Young/Springsteen with harmonica and the excellent hook and sing-a-long refrain. Extra kudos to wee lass Greer (Alyssa) for her vocal performance.
'Somebody once said my music is like ‘A Poor Man’s Springsteen’ I like that'. There's no need for that actually, this singer/songwriter is a good Paddy Nash, and that's not too shabby. Effectual story telling with boots to match... and music.