independent

Thursday 17 April 2014

Secret of a talented man's life

The Secret Life Of

(Raincoat Records)

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Five years ago, Paddy Casey released an album called Addicted to Company (Part One). The title suggested a second instalment was imminent, but no such album materialised.

In fact, the intervening period has been a difficult one for Casey, who has parted company with his long-term record company, Sony, and has seen his attempts to crack the US market fall flat.

This, his fourth album, is being released on his own label and boasts more experimental touches than his previous outings did, although anyone expecting a significant change in direction will be disappointed.

Perhaps wisely, Casey focuses on what he does best – writing solid, keenly observed, guitar-driven songs that showcase his ability to deliver choruses to lodge in the memory. It's Really Up to You is typical of such catchy fare and although it's unlikely to convert the doubters, it boasts the sort of big-hearted melody that first got people excited about the Dubliner in the mid-1990s.

The similarly radio-friendly Wait weaves his own pop-folk vocals with that of the Shannon Gospel Choir and it's the sort of composition that's surely destined to become a live staple.

Yet such competent songcraft serves to highlight the comparative weaknesses elsewhere, including the clubby, dance-oriented Lightstrong, which probably sounded like a good idea initially but hasn't really worked in studio.

Elsewhere The Love Harmonica is a pulsating blues number that finds Casey a long way from his comfort zone – but this misguided tune is definitely a step in the wrong direction.

By the end of The Secret Life Of, an unavoidable sentiment raises its head: despite his talent, Casey has yet to release a truly excellent, consistently strong album.

KEY TRACKS It's Really Up to You; Wait

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