The slow and steady climb to recognition for Canadian songwriter Paul Klonschinsky has started to bear serious fruit in recent years. As accolades have come his way, Klonschinsky’s songwriting has deepened and, with his fifth album Nobody Knows, reaches another peak where it is difficult to shake the feeling that Klonschinsky’s talents have him working at a higher level than the majority of his peers. Influences in his music aren’t readily identifiable. Needless to say, Klonschinsky draws more from a tradition than any individual player or songwriter. None of the songwriting on Nobody Knows concerns itself with attempting to remake the wheel. Instead, the ten songs on Nobody Knows explore a wide musical base without ever venturing too far afield from its acoustic heart.
“Fallin’ for You” begins the release with a great deal of brash energy, primarily manifested through Klonschinsky’s vocals and guitar work, but the control never loosens entirely. Klonschinsky delivers a compelling narrative over the arrangement and, wishing perhaps to keep the listener’s attention focused more on the lyrical narrative, phrases his vocals carefully and without an abundance of emotion. The latter quality emerges much more strongly, yet continued to be understated, on the album’s brooding title song. Klonschinsky isn’t averse to finding and exploiting humor in the title song’s concept, but there’s an added layer of the bittersweet underlying the track as well. He really connects with an artistic home run on the song “I Long For You”. Bringing together the plaintive emotion of her voice, the directness of his acoustic guitar work, strong melodies, and quasi-classical orchestration results in one of the album’s most memorable moments. You will likely never hear anything quite like “I Long For You” over the course of 2016 – ultimately, it sounds and plays like a composition capable of emerging from a single pen alone. This is one of the best examples on Nobody Knows of the growing talent distance between Klonschinsky and many of his peers.
Much of the album’s second half concerns itself with similar subject matter and rambunctious acoustic driven arrangements. The two notable exceptions to this are “Sing for the Silence”, a notably Indian flavored piece that never goes too deeply into its influence but keeps many of its roots firmly tethered to recognizable pop and :”Can’t Forget About You” makes itself stand out thanks to the almost punky vibe that shapes its songwriting turns. Klonschinsky delivers fine renditions of both songs, particularly the former – his singing on “Sing for the Silence” is remarkably dramatic without ever seeming overwrought. The final gem on Nobody Knows is surely the last track, “Xmas Time Is Near”, but its unfortunately sabotaged some by a poor vocal mix. The lyrics, as discernible as they are, seem to take a gratefully layered approach to the tried and true subgenre of “holiday” songs. Klonschinsky doesn’t seem like a performer who’d embrace gimmick songs and he doesn’t start here.
Nobody Knows will undoubtedly draw Paul Klonschinsky some more well deserved attention and continue burnishing his reputation as one of Canada’s best songwriters. There’s an inspiration that comes through in everything he writes and records – that spirit continues to find a home on his latest release.
9 out of 10 stars.