Paul Childers - Naked Poetry
The thirteen songs on Paul Childers’ debut album Naked Poetry are an emphatic musical statement. It’s a reverberating opening salvo for a career seemingly certain of longevity and leaving behind a meaningful influence for performers who follow him. Few singers and songwriters land in the public consciousness with such resounding effect and it virtually assures anyone listening that this is an artist who intends to produce high caliber music for years to come. The dominating style on Naked Poetry, nuanced R&B typically boasting a brass section, There are some interesting variations occurring over the course of thirteen songs, but Childers moves from one approach to another with unshakable confidence. It’s not the sort of thing musical performers typically possess so early on, at such a young age, but Childers has the sort of poise that comes along once in a generation. This is a potentially iconic career in the offing.
His self-assurance comes through from the first. “Music Will Pull You Through” and “The Art of Being Twenty” are a fantastic one-two punch that serves notice Naked Poetry aims to be a substantive artistic statement. The first of the two songs concentrates more on conveying a sense of universality through storytelling while the latter song hits on much more personal sounding sentiments and strikes a nice contrast with the album’s opener. “Why Don’t You Stay?” shows that Childers has a remarkable talent for inhabiting the slow drag of a real R&B burner. It’s all the more remarkable how well Naked Poetry holds together when you consider Childers’ willingness to take different directions from song to song. The track “At Our Own Pace” moves from a patient R&B style with an emphasis on blues to the deep pocket and slinky sounds heard on “At Our Own Pace” and do so without missing a step. He projects the same vocal confidence on this song that’s stamped on the album’s other ten tracks and it makes it quite an entertaining ride. “My Love of the Rain” comes at an excellent place in the album’s procession – near the mid way point – and works better than you could ever expect as the album’s cinematic heart. It does a superb job with only a few essential musical elements and builds to all of the right crescendos without ever cheapening the moment.
“Emma” has a very different flavor from the other songs for a variety of reasons but the curious rhythms of the song differ most noticeably from his approach in the other material. It doesn’t compromise his vocal, however – time in, time out, on Naked Poetry, Childers gives evidence that he can handle any style. “No One Goes Dancing Anymore” is one of the high points of the album’s second half and blends stylish R&B with pure pop strengths in a way that’s sure to win adherents. “Disclosure” is a different kettle of fish as well. It recalls the personal touch we heard on the album’s second track, but there’s a much cloudier tint hanging over the track than we ever heard from “The Art of Being Twenty”. “Throwing Shade” is the album’s last moment of pure glorious invention. The incongruous marriage of the upbeat musical arrangement and the darkly comic, somewhat cynical lyric is quite dramatic. There’s an embarrassment of riches on this album – Paul Childers has clearly harnessed all of his powers to make this a meaningful initial album that will stand the test of his sure to be long career.