Barry Walsh
Scarlet Letter Records

An accomplished collection of mainly piano-led, melodic instrumentals.

Four years on from his accomplished debut solo set, THE CROSSING, Walsh has produced, arranged, engineered and penned the majority of the twelve selections on PARADISO. Walsh (piano, electric piano, synthesiser, accordion and electric guitar) is assisted on his sophomore outing by spouse/skilled songwriter Gretchen Peters (piano, vocals), multi-talented Nashville studio owners/ album producers/sidemen Doug Lancio (electric guitars) and David Henry (cello), Barry’s son Brennan (electric guitar) and from bluegrass band Blue Highway the inimitable Rob Ickes (Dobro). There’s a definite European flavour to this collection with titles including the brisk and airy yet assertive, cello-supported "Koblenz", and "Paradiso", named after the iconic Amsterdam concert venue where Peters and Walsh have performed. The title "Paradiso" is also undoubtedly a reflection on the joyous quality of (Walsh’s) life these days, having married Gretchen in late 2010. Appropriately "Gretchen’s Theme" opens this album, and there’s an extended interpretation of "North Platte" which opened (and was also reprised on) the Gretchen Peters with Tom Russell collaboration ONE TO THE HEART, ONE TO THE HEAD (2009). "Marathon Motor Works" prominently features Ickes, and the three-way, fold-out, card liner includes a picture of Barry outside this former early twentieth-century factory in downtown Nashville, re-developed a quarter of a century ago as Marathon Village into a complex of artists’ and photographers’ studios, offices, radio station and more. At some six and a half minutes duration each, "Youth And Age" (co-written with Brennan, it takes its name from a William Butler Yeats poem) and "July 20", a reference to the date the melody was created, are the longest selections on PARADISO. Both are gently/moderately paced melodic delights. Written by Gretchen and Barry the album’s only other composing collaboration is "Seven Weeks". Thereon the latter switches to keyboard and electric guitar, while the former plays piano. Running out at just short of two minutes each interpretations of "Son Binocle" (it translates as His Monocle), from the pen of classical music composer Erik Satie, bookend four selections and constitutes the second half of this album. Inclusion of the latter finds Walsh echo THE CROSSING, which featured Satie’s "Je Te Veux". Here, the first version is piano led while the second employs electronic sounds and confirm Barry’s love for this Frenchman’s oeuvre. Waxing and waning, twice, Gretchen adds a delicately angelic vocal to "There’s Been An Incident", one of the foregoing (bookended) quartet and this album’s penultimate selection.

Arthur Wood

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