Saturday 3 January 2015


CD Review

Paper Grenade

There is something wonderfully restful about Midlander Chris Tye's style of singing and playing while at the same time this collection of songs, which gestated over three years, seems to have the ability to get under your skin.

Chris Tye from Balsall Common, Birmingham
One of the first things you notice is that his songs have real emotional depth and you get a sense of genuine feelings being invested in every note.
As if to reinforce this Heart To The Ground, the opening track, mimics a heartbeat in the soft spots between what is a full ballad.
He has a style which is a mixture of Labi Siffre, Donovan with just a hint of Paul Simon thrown in.
Lisbon Harbour is a really pleasant and slightly jaunty song which is reminiscent of The Housemartins/Beautiful South.
Tye, with Michael Clarke, has put together music which is very easy to digest and enjoy and this continues with I Will Be With You, which is based on a letter to his then unborn daughter Daisy, which even though it is a fairly slow ballad has a snare underbeat which defies you not to pick up the rhythm. With Breakdown it first offers a harder rock sound but then eases into Tye's smooth notation, he does manage to produce a big sound with seemingly the slightest of effort and his voice is always clear through the many-layered backing music.
Weight of Expectation is a lovely, mellow ballad with Tye's doleful voice adding a real restful but deeply emotional strand to the whole.
There is something strangely retro with The Unassuming Start and more than any other track displays what a smooth and likeable voice Tye has which really is good enough not to need any accompaniment at all. The song sounds like something that will end up in a Disney or Pixar cartoon soundtrack at some stage like Hallelujah from Shrek.
The strange thing about Vicious Words is the title belies the style of Tye, the delivery of the gentle ballad reminds of Jay Kay of Jamiroquai with its slight jazz-funk feel to it.
For Daisy, who is his inspirational daughter, sticks out like a sore thumb on this mellow album with it's juke joint, bar piano sound and foot stomp beat which wouldn't be out of place on a Chaz & Dave album except for Tye's delightful and subtle tones.
Paper Grenade by Chris Tye
One of the last tracks on the album, Baby When I'm Down and Out, is probably the most commercially sounding, with Tye's voice held up with a strong production of backing singers and strings which reminds of The Cars and their hit Drive .
The penultimate and title track is almost the sister song to The Unassuming Start and, certainly in terms of the guitar playing, sounds like the early stuff from the British Bob Dylan, Donovan.
Vicious Words (acoustic demo) is essentially a bonus track but it does give you a chance to compare Tye's voice au naturale with the production version and, it has to be said, with Tye's shimmering tones the previous version does sound a bit like gilding the lily.
Paper Grenade, the title of which comes from a conversation about coping with cancer, is a really thoughtful and chilled album from an artist who has a really cool voice and way of expressing himself.

Paper Grenade is out now and available through Tye's website.

The Mike Harding Folk Show

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