Thursday, Apr 01 2004 | 10:58

Its not a coincidence that an artist such as Paul Armfield has arrived at this point in time, the current celebration of new singer / songwriter has seen the arrival both here and in the states of what can only be described as left of centre folk music that allows itself much more poetic license that is traditionally thought of, the likes of which have not been heard since the halcyon days of the late 50’s, mid sixties and early seventies. Paul Armfield’s debut long player “Songs Without Words” could be described as just that. The words are meant to act as illustrations into different worlds and scenario’s, a soundtrack for every Saturday night, every lonely Sunday morning or those special moments that happen every so often in a lifetime, the celebratory highs of found love and contentment and the lows of knowing you have lost what you had, a paradise lost. Rarely has so much emotion been compressed into less than one hour of description and metaphor, this is why the music finds it impossible to be kept in one genre, take your great philosophers, romantics or poets and ask them to cover such a broad range of human nature, ask them to repeat the exercise and it’s a sure shot that it couldn’t be done. Repetition is a no no and it didn’t take Paul Armfield a lifetime of scribing volume after volume of prose to come to the conclusion that experience is the only teacher. Walking around with your eyes closed but your ears open for a few years in your more youthful years allows more use of your imagination whilst knowing what can feed your dreams, all Paul ever wanted to do was play his instruments, write his songs and wait his turn.

Hailing from the midlands but having lived on the Isle Of Wight for most of his “memory allowing” life, Paul has played in numerous bands, never committing himself to one style of music, his love of Punk, Soul, the sophisticated pop ballads of Bacharach and David, the heartbreaking musing s of Brel and Scott Walker, the experimentation of the new romantics and their consequence contemporaries over the last twenty years (Mobius, Mogwai etc) have all played a part into getting to this point now, mix with this his love of alternative country music, the rockabilly blues of early Lee Hazlewood productions and a band surrounding him that brings another shopping bag of influence and you have the recipe for not a five course meal but a never ending banquet. Pop as Paul sings on the album’s title song “is a disposable art”, does pop mean just that, in the end it goes pop? It’s too clean, too perfect, it’s not meant for this chaotic world, it cannot settle and will always be striving to be accepted, “A Song Without Words” fits perfectly into this world by not being contrived, Paul, and the band’s approach was simple, they let the music take them, building from within, like a nebula, constantly expanding until the track implodes on itself and it burns brightly on its own for thousands of years to come and like stars there is not one on its own that is more beautiful than the rest, instead the album is a mini galaxy made up of individual suns that shine on their own with plenty of space between them, you do not need to use a Hubble type instrument to see them, just the looking glass that is your soul.

It should be noted also that there are only five musicians on the entire album, count them: five. There has not been an instrument invented that one of the band has not exploited, there were probably over 15 different instruments used on the album although listening to it, you cannot hear where they are hiding, from accordions, to banjos, to mandolins, to 3 different Rhodes and Hammonds, even a working implement such as a saw finds a place, Jean Paul Grimshaw, Barkley Mckay, Jake Rodriguez and Trevor Smith make up The Four Good Reasons, musicians who plug into Paul and vice versa to interpret each others frequencies and create wave scapes, they help put the colour into Paul’s black and white scribblings, it’s a symbiotic relationship, if the words are the blood, then the music has to be the veins feeding the music around the body of work. There is nothing else that sounds like this album at the moment, it crosses boundaries but in a mainstream acceptable way, it has situations we can all relate to and with next year’s A Town Full Of Fonzies revue, you will really get an idea of how “live” this album really is, no rehearsals, no co-writing, just two weeks at a time recording sessions that produced musical instincts rawer than sushi.

Songs Without Words” (release date: 22.03.2004) is not only a debut for the band but for new label A Town Full Of Fonzies, which will develop and nurture the Isle Of Wight’s swarming musical scene. A Town Full Of Fonzies promises to bring the original music and artists from this creative hotbed and deliver them to a world-wide audience gaining the recognition the music deserves.

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