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whistle

An old man with long gray whiskers came through the train cars selling popcorn, chewing gum and candy. "Hey!" said one of his customers. "I thought young boys were supposed to do your job." 

"I was a boy when this train started." (Thomas W. Jackson, 1903).

 

Returning to his early 70's musical roots, when he was a young boy with long red whiskers, but stirring in depth and maturity from a time tested perspective, Paul Clark's songs continue to affirm that the beauty of the sojourn is not confined to the final destination. With 18 recordings resonating from the platform of his discography, his deep convictions on "Down At The Whistle Stop," will take you on a journey far beyond a one blink station. Don't be lulled into thinking this is just "another record" from a CCM pioneer trying to live out the string. On the contrary, Clark's fires, musically and lyrically, as well as his supporting cast of veterans, are freshly stoked. Always enthusiastic about riding the rails of life, you can understand why he is sanctioned to say, "I was a boy when this train started."  All aboard!

                                                CREDITS

 

In this era, when compressed files are the audio opium of the masses, Clark refused to bow to Nebuchadnezzar's low fidelity furnace, ignored the flashing cross bars of economic sensibility and purchased a one way ticket for his rhythm tracks to be shaped and molded in the Music Row refinery of Oceanway Studios, a world class recording facility located in a 100 year old church in Nashville.

 

Cognizant that a great church is not made with bricks and mortar, but vibrant people, Clark tethers the fiery talents of longtime friends, Gospel Music Hall of Fame guitarist, Phil Keaggy, Phil Madeira (Emmy Lou Harris), Dennis Holt (Taylor Swift), Don Harris (Paul Baloche), Jimmie Herman (Carrie Underwood), Jay Pfeifer, Jimmie Bratcher, Stanton Kessler and Christie Kuzmich to the equally savvy skills of new friends, Matt Pierson (Big N Rich), Brandon Draper (Donna Summer), Charity Von, Tracy Frech, Cynthia Vaughn, Cameron Vaughn, Robert Roberson III and Phillip Babineaux, to power the songs down the line. Engineered, and mixed by Nashville veteran, Todd Robbins, (Little Big Town), and mastered by Grammy Award winning, Lurssen Mastering,(Taylor Swift, Civil Wars, Robert Plant and Alison Krauss), of Hollywood, California, the sonic quality of the project is second to none.


 

Not to go unnoticed are Paul's photography skills. Gifted with an eye for the subtle flair, and the ability to capture it with a self-timer, the packaging, designed by Clark and photo kinsman, Isaac Alongi, wraps the disc like vintage Christmas paper. (To view the lyrics go to paulclarkmusic.com).

 

  

 

                                                                      

 

 

 

  SONG REVIEW

 

 

"DOWN AT THE WHISTLE STOP"

The opening, title cut track, to the 11 song journey, unpacks a storyline inside a depot cafe that summons the past to the arriving future. Clark's acoustic introduction, ala Neil Young/Crazy Horse, drafts Holt's drum fill and Pierson's bedrock bass into the bin for coals to ignite Madeira's melodic guitar and B-3 organ. Keaggy's billowing solo lets you know that this train is moving down the track and not turning back. Clark's narrative lead vocal, as well as his soaring background vocals with Charity Von, will have you humming the hook before you reach the closing chorus.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

"ENTERTAINING ANGELS UNAWARE"

Merging flawlessly to the second track, Clark's homage to The Beatles is clearly evident in the Sgt. Pepper-ish bridge section, as well as his melodious, lyric heavy verses and multi-layered chorus vocals. Once again, Keaggy's award winning abilities blaze as Clark and band press onward toward the destination. Look around…. you never know who your fellow passengers might be.

 

"WITHOUT LOVE"

Written in one of his favorite alternate tunings (C-G-D-G-C-D), Clark's urgent acoustic riff, layered with Madeira's jaunty electric, provides a loom for Jimmy Herman's fiddle to weave his color in the tapestry. Quoted often, yet often abandoned, Clark takes direct aim at theological pride and the futility of a life vacant from the declared values of 1st Corinthians, chapter 13.

 

"HOLE BETWEEN YOUR EARS"

Tipping his hat to his youthful drumming days, Paul employs the timeless drumbeat of The Zombies iconic hit, "Time Of The Season," to pull the cargo. Holt's tumbling toms and Pierson's rumbling bass, provide an honest lectern for Clark's metaphorical sermon and mercy seeking prayers. Madeira's cagey guitar and organ dexterity evoke a resounding amen for Keaggy's capacious solo to soar. Impassioned, Clark and Von nail the soulful exhortation to the door of the heart.

 

"DRIVE IN"

Clark's emulation toward a Leonard Cohen style, “parler chanter” (fr.), starts with a languid groove. Suddenly, ignition sparks, and he takes you to the fork in the road....will you choose the onramp to the circuitous beltway of self protection, or the high road to healing? Clark's symbolic deliverance is transported by Madeira's curvacious organ and guitar, Pfeifer's wooing Wurly, Pierson's unshakeable bass and Holt's lazy, but never late cadence. Kessler's unexpected Flugelhorn solo over the chord progression of The Animals epic, "House of The Rising Sun,” greases the squeaky wheels for Clark's victory verse to finally arrive at the intersection of destiny. If you're not persuaded to join the choir of witnesses singing “Hallelujah,” as the band enthusiastically exhaust themselves at the alter of salvation, you better check your pulse now. 

 

"SOME SPIN"

Written while jogging the Jersey Shore from Longport to Atlantic City, Clark, was mesmerized by the  endless stream of buses coming and leaving to gamble. Uncompelled to throw the first stone, Paul's unambiguous lyrics flow effortlessly with his ascending and descending guitar riff, while Madeira's haunting lap steel and Herman's gypsy fiddle usher the approaching squall. Pierson's upright bass and Holt's muffled mallets provide the 9th hour drama that builds until the wheel stops abruptly on the bone chilling disclosure…. "some choose neither and hope it goes well."

 

"HEY JESUS"

The rocking chair squeaking on the wooden floor, in tandem with Bratcher's fried chicken Dobro intro, warns the listener that this loosey-goosey, front porch jam, will make you dredge your cupboards for a pan and spoon to join Draper's syncopated “second line” snare and bass drum roots. Pfeifer's percussive Wurly supports Clark's bluesy guitar and voice, as well as the vocal prowess of Charity Von, as they unleash their raspy testimonies to a God who welcomes the word "hey" in authentic prayer.

 

"BABY MOON"

While cleaning the baby moon hubcaps on his vintage, 1965 Airstream Caravel trailer, Paul observed that not only were they stylish, but functional to cover up the grimy nuts and bolts securing the rusted wheel. Carefully crafted to transport the listener from a backroad campground to the edge of the sea, Clark uses a one lane, dead end ramble to expose transformation from self protection to salvation. Musically, Clark and the "Baby Moon Boys" could easily be working this one out in a Honky-Tonk.

 

"SHORELINE"

On one of his migratory trips to Washington Island, Paul surveyed an old wooden boat peering from the reeds. Exhumed by the harsh winter storms of Door County, Wisconsin, the storyline whispering from the hole in the hull was nearly audible. Two hours later, the ghost was out of the boat and chronicled on Detroit Island. Salvage restoration has been a lifestyle for Paul since childhood, so the charted course for this sail reflects his ease of articulating the resurrection allegory.

 

"THE TOUCH OF YOUR HAND ON MY FACE"

Reducing the instrumental palette to Baritone guitar, string quartet, accordion and harmonium, Paul recants a period in his life when nocturnal intercessions, contended at the kitchen table, dissipated with the faithfulness of another sunrise. The lingering touch loves leaves an imprint never forgotten.

This song was written for Heidi.

 

"AFTER ALL ….. LOVE"

As a composer, forever yearning for that one song to validate the sum of the parts, Paul's thirst was quenched in this ephemeral burst of eternal resolve. His unplugged  proclamation in the first two verses render an invitation to the open hearted pilgrim. Pfeifer's minimalistic piano in the bridge, with Clark's conciliatory words of wisdom, offers the cup of resolve to let it all go! The soliloquy closes with the only reasonable solution…. “After all you can see, after all you can hear, after all you can touch, after all disappears, after every bloom, after every leaf falls down......After all, LOVE!”