Thursday, August 25, 2016

Album Review: John Paul White- Beulah

John Paul White
**and1/2 out of *****

One half of the wildly popular The Civil Wars, John Paul White returns after a few years of silence with his first solo album and his first release since the splitting of that group. Beulah is a soft mediation on relationships and loss which fit White's soothing croon perfectly.

There is an easiness to White's voice, but as a songwriter things seem to be a bit harder to come by as his mix between simple country folk and overproduction schmaltz clouds the record. Things open well with the delicate acoustic based "Black Leaf" that adds chimes for some uniqueness and "What's So" is excellent southern Gothic folk with energy. After that things go a bit wonky.

"The Once And Future Queen" moves into fairly pop mainstream areas but adds some gorgeous backing harmonies. Lyrically it is stale as are follow ups "Make You Cry" and "Fight For You" the first is delicate but dull and the second has more muscle but doesn't take it anywhere.

"Hope I Die" picks things back up with some bizarre tape loops to start and an intriguing beat. Lyrically it pulls in blues folk and pop string sections over his fluttering vocals that soar. It is a highlight of the disk putting emotion and substance into the track.

The simple and sparse "Hate The Way You Love Me" amps the country while "I've Been Over This Before" brings in The Secret Sisters for a duet but that pull between backyard folk and pop gets blurred with late arriving strings.

"The Martyr" is more confident and direct showcasing a B3 organ with Whites most secure singing over standard lyrics but some that may go to the deeper feelings of his last bands breakup. This track (which somehow reminds of a Tom Petty tune) clearly shows the past Grammy winners talent, but consistency on this first solo disk is the issue.
Support the artist, buy the record, peep some video below:

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