CD REVIEW: Paul Carey - Electric Blueprint
By: Neil Thomas (UK)
Paul Carey & Indigo Blade
Genre: Ambient Chill Out Soul
Weakness: Minor flaws with vocal harmonies, vocal samples used a little too much
CD Review: Paul Carey and Indigo Blade hail from beautiful West Yorkshire in the United Kingdom. They have released their debut CD “Electric Blueprint” on Blacksail Records in May 2011. A simplistic yet intriguingly designed cover provides a track list and sleeve notes, but little else.
The CD kicks things off with “Music” - a hooky, mid-tempo acoustic rock piece that gets things going in the right direction. Right from the start this upbeat modern tune grabs your attention, but it is Carey’s incredible satin vocal tones that instantly captivates the audience. His voice is soporific and soothing, like someone’s slipped a pillow behind your head at the moment you press the “play” button. Indigo Blade (assuming that is the name given to guitarist/songwriter Jonathan Taylor, Bass player Theo Speller and drummer/songwriter Leigh Stothard) are beautifully tempered here. The emphasis seems to be on supporting the voice and demonstrates the evolved talents of seasoned pro musicianship between these guys. Track 2 continues and picks up the pace slightly with a tune that manages to be progressive and laid back at the same time. By the third song we have an established style, with that incredible voice positioned centrally. The reverb complements Paul’s voice perfectly and gently emphasizes his texture. His soulful vibrato is sweetly complimented by a female non-lexical voice, set at counterpoints. Track 4 “Make It Funky” picks up the pace further with a spaciously arranged piece. Stothard is laying down some seriously tasty beats here and the drum kit sounds awesome driving the piece along. Contrasted with Spellers very tasteful and understated bass-line, it’s the perfect backdrop for Carey to throw that soulful voice over the groove. The synthesizers and samples fill the gaps and provide loads of atmosphere. Another strong song that really demonstrates Carey’s talent is “Broken Neon Sign” – here he performs in the now ubiquitous ‘unplugged’ style, accompanied with some very understated percussion from Stothard. The heartfelt passion and soulful textures of Carey’s voice seem even more intimate here. Someone once said that the measure of a good song is when it can still sound great played on an acoustic guitar, and here that axiom is amply demonstrated. Closely followed by “Got Soul” – this next track sounds very much like band are paying homage to the roots of soul. With the choppy guitars and funk rhythms, there is James Brown here amongst others. Even the cheeky middle eight pokes a little fun when it slips into jazz mode for a time before coming back. "Wash Over me” has an amazing vibe to it. Rich with colours and light and shade, this palate is incredibly diverse, from the interlocking guitar lines and the sampled female voices – the arrangement is expertly crafted. My only slight issue is that the drums could be a little louder in the mix – they are ever-so-slightly under the melodic instruments, yet the drum sounds recorded are second to none, I just want to hear more. As the CD makes its way to the finish line, the tracks seem to get even more ambient and the chill-out vibe seems to multiply. This is perhaps exaggerated by the fact that a dub version of the title track has been included. By the final track “Space” we have been privy to an incredible musical journey reaching a destination where total relaxation and meditation raises your spirit to a higher plain.
It really is difficult to find anything negative to say about this collection of modern chill out soul. The female sampled voices are perfectly placed at key points in the tracks but I cant help feeling that a dedicated female session singer would have made these colours even brighter and more vivid than they already are. In some places Paul’s harmony vocals are not in perfect time with the lead vocal, however this is such a minor point, given the intensity and sheer passion in the voice. Because of this, and the fact that the songs themselves are so well crafted, this issue goes virtually un-noticed. As a listener I remained entertained the entire time.
Overall this is a very impressive debut by Paul Carey and Indigo Blade. Although difficult to pigeonhole, Carey’s voice sometimes reminds me of Seal. That trademark satin texture is a true gift to the world and one that I’m sure, we deserve to be hearing more of in the future. Paul clearly has the look, the mojo, and the sex appeal to make this a premier national, even international act. The measure and pedigree of the other musicians also make this an incredible tour-de-force to be reckoned with and I can only imagine great things ahead for this outfit. If they can build on this already established style and inject even more originality the sky really will be the limit. I for one, will definitely be charting the progress of Paul Carey and Indigo Blade.
Neil Thomas (UK)