Are You Going to Paul Curreri[CD]
FROM AMERICANA-UK: 'FIRST ELEC. OFFERING FROM VA NATIVE LEAVES A WARM GLOW... It's the fourth album for Paul Curreri, and he's all plugged in and raring to go. Recorded live in Charlottesville, Virginia, Curreri's home state, this is impressive stuff for sure. Joined by a couple of the town's notable jazz musicians, we are treated to twelve Curreri originals and one Duke Ellington cover ("Azalea"), all of which excite, enthrall, and entertain in equal measure. A complicated paradox, Curreri, on the one hand plays with a confident swagger and nonchalant ease that borders on arrogance. Yet unravel these complex rhythms and delicate melodies, and at their core lies a fragile tunesmith with heart on his sleeve, just happy in his own heady world of old-time jazz and stark country blues. A storyteller at heart, and one of those rare performers able to intoxicate an audience at will, we get to experience both here. "The Island Drag," a new track bears all the hallmarks of a Curreri gem complete with slow burning spiral guitar and cunning lyrical wordplay. "Hawkmoth" can be filed under "inspired country blues" whilst Ellington's "Azelea" sounds like it was penned yesterday by Curreri himself. A regular visitor to these shores Curreri is an awesome live performer and one not to be missed next time around. For the time being this will more than suffice. 'Are You Going To Paul Curreri?' - yes Sir, you bet!' ******** Paul Curreri, the thirty-year-old guitarist and songwriter from Virginia, unveils his fourth album, Are You Going To Paul Curreri, this March on Brooklyn's City Salvage Records. "Hallelujah in a shoebox, y'know? Charlottesville, Virginia! It felt good to lay this down at home," Curreri says. "My wife was there and everything." Having released three previous records to international acclaim, it is perhaps Curreri's spirited live efforts that continue to most captivate audiences and critics alike. "At once spontaneous and poetic, twisting guitar parts, and shuffling rhythmic patterns. Playing unpredictably, altering his phrasing, his routines thankfully haven't been hammered into regular shape.' - The Independent (UK) Are You Going To Paul Curreri, recorded in a single evening in late January, finds Curreri in fantastic form. Backed by two of Charlottesville, Virginia's most versatile jazz musicians - Randall Pharr on electric bass, and Spencer Lathrop on drums - Curreri proves he's perhaps even more instinctive & emotive on the telecaster than his usual touring instrument of choice: an HD-28 Martin acoustic. "Yeah, yeah, yeah, 'going electric.' A friend suggested I call the record 'Judith!,'" he laughs. "What can I tell you? It's all I play at home." It shows. Older favorites, such as 2003's already rollicking "If Your Work Is Shouting," (Songs for Devon Sproule, produced by Rykodisc recording artist, Kelly Joe Phelps) are here heroically defibrillated through the roof. With guitar bending and Lathrop's drums racing rockabilly, Curreri sings, "If your work is shouting / From sun up to sun down / Take care in time / A shouter you'll become." Sonically building and continually inventing, the piece dares one to stop for breath. "The Island Drag," one of the album's three new songs, features a spooky guitar hook that underlies a claustrophobic and ferocious tale of limited physical and musical square footage in a foreign land. "God have make the sky not like the island: / Endless feathers flap with room to fly. / Think if every time a bird he long to take off / He have to wait for older bird to die." Of the song's antagonist, Curreri growls, "My hooks? I bait it with his fingers. / The stars above? I chew and spit his eyes. / I'm gonna mush his voice and pour it into bullet / And then never even let that bullet fly." Quickly changing gears, Curreri then introduces the next song: "Dear Mr. Duke Ellington, you wrote my favorite song. It's the one that makes me love everybody ...almost everybody." A beautifully heartfelt rendition of The Duke's "Azalea" follows - Curreri only momentarily stepping aside from the piece's sweetness for two bars of blistering solo barrage. Bassist Randall Pharr sounds particularly at home here. "Man, Paul sure sings that one something joyful," he says. "Lonesome as it gets, too." And for the avid audiophile, Curreri continually makes nods to his various influences, dropping musical breadcrumbs throughout the record. In the album's instrumental kick-off alone, we hear momentarily glimpses of John Fahey's version of "In Christ There Is No East Nor West," Gus Kahn's "I'll See You In My Dreams," and John Hurt's "Pay Day." Chuck Berry, Elizabeth Cotton, Bob Marley, Thelonius Monk, and Ali Farka Toure also make subtle appearances. "It's to Dave Van Ronk's credit really," Curreri says. "His records taught that wearing the past on your sleeve is honorable, to be grateful... and at the same time, to roll that sleeve up and really push forward." "I think this concert pushed forward," he continues. "But still, I'm always waiting round for ghosts... on the lookout for them. 'Cause when I feel them out there, that sure means a lot to me. It's playing music. There's a lot of thanks and love involved." Raised in Richmond, Virginia, Paul now makes his home in Charlottesville with songwriter / guitarist Devon Sproule (the two were married in May of 2005). Curreri grew up playing music but ended up enrolling at Rhode Island School of Design to pursue painting and film. While Curreri credits his experiences at art school with developing his ability to observe and record the visual world, soon his true passion began to rise to the surface. By the time Paul graduated from RISD, he'd composed over 200 songs on guitar and piano. Turning down a job at MTV he set to work carving out a life as a musician. His acclaimed debut for City Salvage Records, From Long Gones To Hawkmoth, was released in 2002 ("Curreri brings a renewed eloquence to the medium... exquisite." - The New Yorker). A triumphant follow-up, 2003's Songs For Devon Sproule was hailed as "one of the very finest records in awhile. And, I don't mean just in this genre. I mean, any genre." - Vintage Guitar Magazine. 2004's The Spirit of the Staircase found the artist continuing to shoulder into new lyrical and musical terrain ("Curreri has sculpted a direction of his own, furrowing a sonic field which few musicians would be admitted to at this time. Dexterous guitar work and hushed insight, full of soul and (at last) originality. ' - Americana-UK). With clarity of vision, & astoundingly visceral playing and singing, Are You Going To Paul Curreri may be Curreri's most vibrant statement to date. Freshly transforming older numbers, boldly interpreting two cover pieces, and stretching further than ever with new songs, the album manages to corral a multitude of sides of this young Virginian's ever-brightening career. Yes, we are going to Paul Curreri.
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