[MUSIC/FOLK ~ SA]
Over the last few years Paula Standing has had a steady stream of releases, singles, EPs and two albums, and now her first release for 2019 – the EP, Truth & Trickery. This EP has six tracks recorded at Wizard Tone Studios in Adelaide and features Emily A. Smith on guitars and backing vocals, Holly Thomas on percussion, Shireen Khemlani on bass, Emma Luker on violin and Richard Coates on keys.
The package has been designed by local graphics maestro (not to mention her own musical talents) – Courtney Robb of Paperdoll Graphic Design with a retro pre-faded feel, attractive and with most of the information that you’d hope for, including a little booklet with lyrics for reference. The only addition I could suggest would be to add the track times on the back cover, so radio presenters know how much time to allow up front.
The sound is clean and professional; each instrument is clear and has its place in the mix without getting in the way. Instruments have been mixed across the stereo space as well, adding interest to the ears.
The EP gets underway with the slow burn of A Good Day, which starts off like any good day – “a crack in the sky”, “Lava flows on the street”, and it just keeps on coming – with the hope held out that eventually, one day, “not too far away, there will be a good day”. The darkness of the lyric is a cross between blues and alt-country. The piano licks of Richard Coates jump out in this track, complementing the voice, drawing our attention to the light and hope, more than the dark.
Then the swinging beat of All Over By Christmas, featuring the violin of Emma Luker playing harmonies with the Paula’s voice, and is followed by the gentle sad country ballad Heartaches Coming Around, with a mellow but jangly guitar and violin. This War Ain’t Over is more upbeat, with war being a metaphor for the battle for meaning and connection, the crux expressed at the end of a catchy chorus, “While this hole in my heart is the only thing I’ve got,” again, decorated by a very tasty country lead-style guitar (Emily A Smith). Oh Baby is the next, a not love song, the subject clearly mixed up too deep with a love that ain’t a love, with feelings that are desired, but….
Which brings us to the final track – Beautiful bringing us back to the lovely touch of Emma Luker’s violin. The refrain, “Just because you’re beautiful” batters home a point with some difficult people, hitting the prophetic last line “don’t mean you will when you get old”.
Paula’s lyrics are part of a fine and lyrical, but dark country tradition, personal stories of struggle and heartache. Over the last few years she’s been working hard on her songwriting, going to courses, retreats and collaboration sessions – and the results are here to be enjoyed. Some dark and personal stories deftly told and decorated with solid songwriting, great musicianship and production.
Paula Standing launches Truth & Trickery at Nexus Arts, Lion Arts Centre from 1.30pm on Sat 27 April with special guests The Fiddle Chicks.
Bookings at TryBooking.Com. Click HERE to purchase your tickets.
Centre image courtesy of Ben Searcy Photography