Paul Reddick - Sugarbird - Reviews

 
Sugarbird

"Producer/guitarist Colin Linden's name might not be on the front cover of Reddick's third solo release and first in four years, but he's as much a part of this disc's -- and Reddick's two previous projects -- creation as the headliner. Linden co-writes all but two tracks with Reddick, and his guitar drives the music nearly as forcefully as the singer's voice and occasional harmonica. Even though Reddick is considered a blues artist, he nimbly injects folk into the style (the acoustic finger-pinging of Morning Bell), '60s slow dance pop (the intriguingly titled John Lennon in New Orleans that even name checks Sleepwalk in its lyrics), Stones-styled rock (Every Temptation) and especially oozing, swampy roots music (If by This). Between the various styles, his poetic lyrics, and a revolving door group of musicians (only Linden plays on every track), the set is somewhat difficult to nail down. But the partnership of Reddick's unassuming, everyman voice and Linden's innovative studio touch -- somewhat like that of Daniel Lanois -- yields a moving, emotional, and always grounded set that flows with grace and class. The bluesiest track is Block of Wood, a tough, grimy Chicago shuffle that clatters and clunks its way through an inspired Reddick harp solo. Elsewhere, on Breathless Girls, the duo plies a folksy Americana, somewhat like that of the Band (whose Levon Helm and Garth Hudson contribute to a few cuts) that's so southern you can almost hear the mosquitoes buzzing. Horns prime It's Later Than You Think, an original you'd swear was an old Sinatra nugget with its swinging tempo and Vegas big-band swizzle stick groove. While the songs are a varied lot, the Reddick-Linden team's reach never exceeds its grasp. The resulting album takes interesting, even unusual twists, such as the military percussion and watery, distant vocal treatment that appears and disappears in I Will Vanish. That makes this collection a challenging, satisfying listen that never goes in the direction you'd think. Reddick is a blues-roots artist unafraid to push boundaries while staying true the genre's deep seated honesty."

-Hal Horowitz
All Music Guide
February, 2009 

 
   

"Paul Reddick is on fire. This supremely energetic release finds Paul teeming with fresh ideas, smart songs and in – as always – superb musical company. Often defined in terms of his musical contributions to ‘Americana’ roots music, it’s becoming increasingly important to appreciate Reddick for spearheading something we should be proud to call ‘Canadiana’. From his musical and lyrical references, his unabashed originality, his choice of session players right down to his choice of label, Reddick’s SugarBird is sweetly – and purely – Canadian. More importantly, it’s a great record – consistent with Reddick’s impeccable track record for issuing flawless, rewarding and impossible-to-categorize releases. He and co-conspirator Colin Linden delight in exploding expectations with their lively tours through musical genres, blessed with their encyclopedic grasp of styles and parade of influences. Suffice it to say, from the uplifting Appalachian-fired Morning Bell (the ultimate motivational morning riser) to the swampy, introspective I Will Vanish that segues into a jet-fueled military march, Reddick owns the turf that he, alone, defines. Toss in the slick big band sounds of It’s Later Than You Think, the spirit-pumping country blues of Wishing Song and the dark atmospherics of Blue Wings and you’ll realize that Reddick will again confound the critics while delivering – to his fans – the Next Best release of his career. One gets the distinct feeling that not only has he sold his soul to the devil – he’s tickled to have it featured as This Week’s Special."

- Eric Thom
Penguin Eggs
January, 2008 

 
   

"Paul Reddick is a well-rounded, articulate bluesman who enjoys poetry, birdwatching, and has a 'day job' as a dog walker! His passion for the masters of pre-war Delta blues, coupled with his keen way with a lyric and his eye for all things aesthetic has resulted in his fourth CD for Fed Litwin's NorthernBlues label, Sugarbird. This set is perhaps the most varied of Reddick's career. Most all the cuts were written by Paul or in collaboration with Colin Linden, and with Paul on harp and vocal, and Colin on all things stringed, they breathe life into Paul's tactile images of poetry and the mysteries of the blues itself, and make for quite an intriguing, enjoyable listen.

"These cuts were recorded over three separate sessions, and Garth Hudson guests on accordion on several cuts. There's also a 'Nashville Connection,' as Bryan Owings guests on drums, as does slap-back bass man Dave Roe.

"The diversity of this set is evident in that several cuts are quietly-pensive and introspective looks at love and beauty, while others sound as if Paul recorded 'em live in a Clarksdale juke joint on a Saturday night. Check out
Wishing Song, Breathless Girls, and Devilment for prime examples of these. Paul's aesthetic touch is readily noticeable, too. Blue Wings, a song of beauty and longing, is embellished by banjo from Colin Linden. I Will Vanish is characterized by echo-effect vocals over Colin's guitar lines.

"We had a couple of favorites, too. Paul conjures up the ghost of Howlin' Wolf in the tale of a woman so mean that she 'cut his heart out like a Block Of Wood.' And, one can almost see
John Lennon In New Orleans, walkin' the streets and singin' along to this piano-and-sax spiced, Fifties-sounding slice of nostalgia.

"The musical direction taken by Paul Reddick in
Sugarbird is akin to those hummingbirds that adorn the album cover. Going effortlessly from style to style the way the elusive hummingbirds flit from flower to flower, this set is sure to have something for every listener!"

- Sheryl and Don Crow
Music City Blues Society
November, 2008 

 
   

"In a world of fast-paced modern rock and loud thumping hip-hop, it’s nice to hear some down-to-earth backyard blues that sound fresh from a Louisiana porch, and this is exactly what Paul Reddick presents in his latest effort, Sugarbird.

"The tracks on this album consist of blues tunes with flashes of country twang, guaranteed to bring the redneck out from even the most stubborn listeners. The music also focuses a lot on Paul Reddick’s impressive vocal versatility. One moment his voice is sweet and low, and the next he’ll be singing with a thick, hearty gruff. His wide array of tones just screams blues.

"While most of the album sounds like a one man show that imparts a slick, laid-back atmosphere, songs such as
Devilment and It’s Better Than You Think feature full bands that step up the pace. The production quality is a little questionable at times, but it undoubtedly adds to the raw, yet smooth and classy sound. Paul Reddick’s lyrics also feel like they have a homemade quality about them, with clichéd blues themes presented in a unique fashion.

"Although throughout the album there’s a constant feel of fresh innovation and originality, at heart this is still a fervent, back-to-basics blues recording. Listening to Sugarbird on a stereo is the equivalent of witnessing Reddick on his patio playing his rusty guitar and singing lyrics off a crumpled scrap piece of paper on a warm summer night."

- Aaron Yeo
The Gateway, University of Alberta
November, 2008 

 
   

"Paul Reddick has again proven he's one of the most creative, innovative and poetic blues-based songwriters working today. Reddick's vocals and the superb guitar playing of producer Colin Linden are at the core of every track. Rating: 4 out of 5."

-MR
The Montreal Gazette
November, 2008 

 
   

"At this juncture, Reddick is a blues man largely in that’s the penumbra that fits him best and easiest. This date, which pairs him heavily with producer Colin Linden, is way out there, even by pomo standards, but not out there in an outré way, out there in a are you sure this is a blues record? way. Backed with a bunch of first call blues rockers and Americana pros, Reddick makes edgy blues based music for whitey that likes to get funky. Pretty rocky and raucous at times, this is the kind of set that adults who still want to buy music are looking for. Solid."

-Midwest Record Recap
October, 2008