Paul Childers – Naked Poetry
The debut album from twenty-two year old singer/songwriter Paul Childers, Naked Poetry, announces the arrival of a major new talent capable of transforming the modern music scene on his back alone. The baker’s dozen of songs on this release never confine themselves to a single line of musical attack – Childers’ songwriting ties together a number of strains like R&B, pop, and soul music into a distinctive and highly individualistic sound that’s thoroughly modern without ever hinting at imitation. There’s no self-indulgence to be found in any of these performance. Childers’ writing and self-assured delivery sounds like he entered the studio with a clear idea of what he wanted to accomplish and how to get there. Few debuts, no matter the age, sound this well put together. Naked Poetry is impressively produced, as well, and he’s surrounded himself with a top flight crew of collaborators to help him realize his musical aspirations.
“Music Pulls You Through” has a slinky, R&B spiked acoustic groove and occasionally intersperses horns into the mix with a nice effect. It’s inspiring to hear how adeptly Childers tackles the song’s emotive requirements and he plays his voice off against the groove with a cool, relaxed confidence that draws listeners in from the first. Naked Poetry’s second song “The Art of Being Twenty” is an example of Childers’ songwriting at its most intelligent and some fantastic drumming does a memorable job of punctuating the performance. The jazzy lilt that gives it an extra bounce makes it one of the album’s most memorable tunes. “Why Don’t You Stay?” has a light touch, but the slow burn R&B qualities of the song give Childers a dramatic platform for showing off his emotive chops. “At Our Own Pace” begins with some beautifully arranged piano before segueing into an airy near-shuffle that sparkles with melody and charisma alike. It is, likewise, yet another example of his songwriting acumen and doubly impressive are the fine lyrics he brings to the table with each song on the album.
“My Love of the Rain”, naturally, opens with some ambient storm sounds before it transforms into another simmering R&B vocal showcase. The great care taken with getting this song right is quite apparent and the occasional flourishes of guitar are especially effective. The title song is a completely modern number with a light-steeping, but well defined groove. He sort of cuts against the grain with this performance – title song, typically, aim to be some sort of definitive statement, but the song’s sub two minute running time belies that intent here. It’s a brief, tasty confection however. “No One Goes Dancing Anymore” is much more overly in a pop vein than many of the other tracks on Naked Poetry and elicits another excellent vocal from Childers despite the slight change in direction. The song, “Disclosure”, begins with an acoustic guitar flourish before focusing its attentions on his voice and appropriately lyrical, even elegiac, piano. The tempo accelerates during the song’s second half and it brings Naked Poetry to a dramatic close without ever straining too much for effect. We should all welcome Paul Childers at the beginning of a long career. This is an artist with limitless potential and staying power.