First release of the re-launched label sees its fire burning gloriously. Ivory hot!
True blues pianists are rare these days; the more sensational, then, seems the advent of this 24-years old English maestro. Superficially a link between Otis Spann and Jools Holland, there's much more deeper classicism in Paddy Milner's music - in broad terms - and those in need of reference points should stick to Jack Bruce in his ivory-tinkling stance. And it's the melodies and vocal delivery which draw such comparisons, not the fact that on half of the tracks Paddy's tunes demanded lyrical verve of Pete Brown's. Add here the talents of, among others, guitarist Robbie McIntosh and legendary harmonica player Marc Feltham... and then forget it all for sheer pleasure of the music.
Easing in on samba-tinctured drama of the title piece, Milner breaks out into a scherzo-boogie, and his velvet twilight feels rather warm than neon-cold - more so, the barrelhouse whirlwind of "You Think You're So Damn Funny" or "Dreamtime" is served hot. And it's a real fun, when Stax-like brass makes room for waltzes that pull the strings in "Can't Escape The Song" and "After The Rain" to zoom out from the streets into a star-strewn sky and back home to savour "The Awakening" lull. Paddy's heart and nerve naturally counter-balance his effortless playing - otherwise, there'd be no playful blues like instrumental "Unsquare Dance" and Gershwin-ish "Beware Of The Groove" or poignant "Run For Cover" where you can't help but share the man's loss. That hits much harder than hushed-down, gently jazzy readings of "Rollin' & Tumblin'" and "Lazy Monday", yet they - as well as gracefully funky "Falling For The Moon" - are for another, grey mood.
Paddy Milner's album is a multifaceted thing, so many fantastic colors springing out of seemingly monochrome setting, most furiously in "Back To The Real World" - that's the way it should come from the black and white keys! There's a tremendous confidence in his stride on such a fragile matter as eggshells, but ghostly his presence ain't. The guy came to stay.