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Mick Paul — Parallel Lives
(Burning Shed PARA001, 2021, CD / DL)

by Jon Davis, Published 2024-01-16

Parallel Lives Cover art

I just recently reviewed Ice Blue - Silver Sky by the David Cross Band, in which Mick Paul plays bass, and I was reminded of this album from a couple years ago that slipped through the cracks. Paul plays bass here, of course, also contributing guitar, and he’s joined by Steve Roberts (drums), Sheila Maloney (keyboards), and Jinian Wilde (vocals), with Cross adding violin on one track, so it’s essentially the David Cross Band doing their own thing while Cross was away. Paul has also recruited guests David Jackson (flute, whistle), Craig Blundell (drums), Paul Clark (“loud” guitar), Dennis Mahon (vocals), and Geoff Winkworth (guitar). While the overall style is less prog-rock sounding, I would hesitate to say it’s not prog, for whatever that’s worth. The 14 songs are melodic and well-written, and the musicians all shine, elevating the music above typical rock. One of the main appeals to Parallel Lives is the way that guitars don’t dominate the sound, as is usually the case. Paul’s nimble bass work is to the fore, combined with stellar drumming, and the chordal support is mostly keyboards. Guitars show up for occasional chords or a solo, but aren’t the foundation of the sound. It’s a very appealing sound, though I can’t think of anything else to compare it to — there are times that remind me of the post-Japan albums of Steve Jansen, Richard Barbieri, and Mick Karn, though Paul’s bass is not much like Karn’s. Wilde is a strong singer and both the lyrics and melodies are good. Maloney’s keyboard playing is mostly atmospheric, rather like Barbieri’s work in Porcupine Tree, and she contributes some very nice textures that really elevate the music, like the microtonal bell-tones in “Uncharted Course.” There are occasional moments of more up-front work, such as the lovely cascades of piano in “One Way Conversation.” I’d be remiss not to mention Paul’s outstanding bass work as well, which is supremely tasty. Parallel Lives is quite an enjoyable album that deftly balances complexity and accessibility, and should appeal to a wide range of listeners.

Filed under: New releases, 2021 releases

Related artist(s): David Cross, David Jackson, Mick Paul

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