Anyone associated with bands called Pladdohg, Plastic Paddy and more latterly, CaliCeltic, is certainly making no bones love for the Celtic heritage. Patrick Noel Russ is that man, his ancestors may or may not originate in that part of the world (Editor’s Note: not!) but it doesn’t matter as this time out it is his solo debut release, Rise Up, which is under the pen rather than the work of any of those Irish referencing, titular bands he has played in past and present. Some of these songs can be found blaring out from live stages as he treads the boards with his current band, The Lucky Sevens. And rather a fine batch of songs it is too.
Either way, there are lots of moving sonic parts at work in his music, lots of influences and reference points but all of that is secondary to one more important factor. Patrick Noel Russ writes great songs. Fact! Not just great songs but accessible, engaging, endearing and infectious songs. Songs that before too many spins you find yourself singing along to, tapping your foot to, swinging your hips to and, eventually, sashaying across the kitchen floor when there is no one looking. Perhaps.
The magic blend seems to be that his music nods both to Old World folk and New World pop-rock sass, is earnest and honest whilst also being upbeat and embracing. I Can Take You, the opening salvo, has a touch of the more commercial end of Tom Petty about it, it struts and grooves but it is also hazy and harmonious and the structures might be simply laid out but they are richly adorned.
Hero shimmers with a sort of Tex-Mex cool, not quite Mariachi in the mix, more a sort of warped soul-blues brass blast but more effective for its off-kilter oddness, and with guitar lines cutting and thrusting, piercing and pouncing at all angles and from all directions, it is an interesting song, one that in lesser hands could become crowded and unwieldy but here is instead ornate and rather elegant in a raw and real sort of way.
Out Here returns to the hazy melodies of the opener, a song that could be tagged as mainstream or middle-of-the-road by someone who isn’t listening properly but is instead smart and deftly crafted, just not at the expense of melody and hook. The ep is taken over the line with All I Need To Be, a song that comes on in rhythmic waves, stomping and swaggering its way towards the listener, sonically broad-shouldered but moving with a grace that defies the muscle on display.
And that is sort of the analogy for everything that you find here. Amongst the muscle is melody, in the rawness, rhythm, in the grind, groove…and no small amount of grace…and genre-hopping….and gorgeous sonic craftsmanship…and, of course, great songs.