Paradiso – Barry Walsh

Label: Scarlet Letter

Tracks - 12


Barry Walsh has been busy recently producing albums for Gretchen Peters and Tom Russell, but is best known as  a professional musician for more than three decades; in this time he has performed with Roy Orbison, Jimmy Webb and Al Green, and he's written songs that were recorded by Waylon Jennings, Jessi Colter and the Amazing Rhythm Aces.  He has played keyboards for years for The Box Tops and all of this is in addition to touring extensively with singer-songwriter Gretchen Peters (over twenty five UK tours since 2001).  During this time he has mesmerized UK audiences with his piano playing, both accompanying Gretchen (his introduction to A Bus to St Cloud, is enough to make a grown man cry) and during his now highly anticipated solo piece during her shows.  I’m not sure he’d now be able to leave The Sage, Gateshead, without playing "Leaving Newcastle", for us, from his first CD, The Crossing.
Barry’s second CD, Paradiso, has been a long time coming, but mark my words, it is worth the wait!  Produced by Walsh, the album comprises twelve pieces of music, all but one self penned. Doug Lancio (Patty Griffin, John Hiatt, Gretchen Peters) adds his guitar prowess to "There’s Been an Incident", which is further enhanced by a stunning choral arrangement by Gretchen Peters. Rob Ickes of Blue Highway adds some dobro to "Marathon Motor Works" and, in a total twist, Peters who plays piano while Walsh adds guitar on a track they co-wrote, called  "Seven Weeks".  This will be a bit of a surprise to fans of Gretchen, who have been seeing her play guitar at shows for a while now!  Walsh’s son Brennan co-wrote and accompanies his Dad on guitar, for "Youth and Age"; perhaps two generations playing this piece together adds a certain poignancy. Finally, esteemed musician Dave Henry adds his cello to several of the pieces on the CD.
"North Platte" debuted on the Gretchen Peters/Tom Russell collaboration; One to the Heart, One to The Head, where it appeared in two parts, and I am happy to see it also made it’s way onto this collection.  It is such an atmospheric piece that it takes you away in your mind, to the place it ‘describes.’ Again demonstrating his admiration for French composer Eric Satie, we see one of his compositions, "Son Binocle", covered to great effect here. The music conveys the humour in the piece, without any need for words.  This then reappears to close the CD...there is a reason...
I admitted that before hearing Barry’s first CD I had always struggled to ‘get’ music without lyrics.  The Crossing changed that for much so that I spent a week in New Orleans and fell in love with the jazz music that surrounded me there.  I was able to relate to it, to catch the emotion in the music and infer its meaning and the story it was telling me, without any need for words.  It gave me a new appreciation of music I’d never had previously.  Paradiso, in one listen, took me on a musical journey, to somewhere I had never been before, but I know that every time I put the CD in the player, I will go back. A place where music tells its own stories and stirs your emotions.  That is Barry Walsh’s talent and that talent is the reason why every one should own Paradiso.  While you’re at it, pick up The Crossing, if you don’t already own a copy.

-Helen Mitchell

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