Paul J Bolger – Paul J Bolger (reviewed by Dave Franklin)

There are many myths and fallacies to be found witinin music. The biggest has to be that it is a younger persons game. Perhaps from a marketing point of view for fly-by-night indie bands or transient pop-tarts, but when it comes to what really matters, the music itself, how can it not improve as the artist behind it becomes more experienced, more worldly wise, more…well, aged? Don’t believe me? Then give Paul J Bolger’s latest album a spin and tell me that I’m wrong.

It may be 25 years since his last album but since then he has exploded in so many creative directions including drawing, direction and design across everything from film to books to graphic novels. And as is often the way, an offer to play a support gig brought an unexpected chance meeting; plans were made, fires stoked, engines slipped into gear and an album emerged.

Bog Gothic! How’s that for a generic tagline? Coined by Irish legends Horslips, it is one which is perfectly applied to Paul J Bolgers blend of Celtic folk, dirge-infused darkness and rootsy rock revels. There is deftly crafted, forlorn folk with Wedding Gown’s gentle reflections, there is low-slung, rock and roll in the form of Pillarstone, Unkind’s chiming, country minimalism and All Those Things’ heart-wrenchingly gorgeous search for redemption.

Paul has never sat on his laurels, always creating, always exploring, always adding to the artistic canon across all manner of disciplines. But if you do want to look for the bigger picture, the core message that you might use to sell the rights of the story to a Hollywood executive, it is that you are never too old. Not in a condescending, ahh, isn’t that nice sort of way but in a embrace the doors that open…or in this case reopen, sense. Creativity isn’t age appropriate, do what feels right, you only live once, opportunity knocks, …(more cliches are available upon request.)

A great album and perhaps one which is so good because it was made only once Paul had so much life-experience tucked into his belt. Young people, bah! What do they know about music anyway?

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