The word has been out on Paul Ewing for quite some time. A native of Scotland, Ewing has been on the radar of music lovers in the United Kingdom since 2008. In that year, Ewing made began selling his first EP (although he never officially released it) at his live shows. It was at the Roundhouse in London in ’08 where Ewing became the “next big thing,” garnering critical acclaim in the process. And each blip he’s made on the UK Music radar screen has gotten stronger since that performance.
On the strength of that Roundhouse show, Ewing won an Indy Award for best Soul/Funk Artist and was nominated for an Urban Music Award. (UMA) Since making his name known, Ewing’s music has been in demand and in steady rotation in the UK. He’s made quite a splash as an actor on the stage and on television, but it’s music that drives Paul Ewing. It’s his essence, his core. Music is the genesis of his artistic creativity, and what allows him to tap into his other pursuits.
Ewing longed to make an album that would express his innermost thoughts and feelings -- songs and music had been in his head for quite some time. Of course, recording isn’t cheap, so Ewing had to save to make his dream come true and unfurl the music in his head. As the years went by, Ewing’s music evolved, and and his artistic approach changed. Always an artist with a broad palette of musical influences, he brings those all together with the release of Retrospectives, his newest release.
It can be said that Retrospectives is a case study in music experimentation, as Ewing searches for the sounds to deliver his messages. And when you’re considered the next big thing in music, experimentation isn’t just a good thing, it’s the right thing to do.
Retrospectives offers a collection of cuts with a wide range of genres, melded into one sonic expression of heartfelt UK soul at its core. Ewing is clearly giving a piece of his life experiences, so the lyrics have meaning and the vocals are heartfelt.
“Cold War,” the first track of the album, is a perfect example of Ewing’s genre versatility. The song has heavy 1960’s and 70’s rock, pop and soul influences, and Ewing deftly handles these styles, providing a continuity that works well.. “Free” works just as well, providing a steady rock/blues feel, with English pop sensibilities. Ewing mellows it out on both “Holding On” and “I Love You,” with the first track having a rock and soul feel and the other boasting hints of fusion jazz. Ewing then delivers a funky pop trip with “Light My Fire.”
Each additional song delivers its unique myriad of music styles. “Love Without Wings” has a D’Angelo neo soul appeal, complete with Elizabethan horns. “Pressure” gives semblances of P-Funk with a strong rock influence. Retrospectives takes its listeners on a journey, like a Space Mountain roller coaster ride at Disney World; you know you’re going on a ride, but since you can’t see where you’re going, you never know what you’re going to get into…But afterwards, you thoroughly enjoyed the ride. That’s how it is with Paul Ewing’s Retrospectives.
While not overtly a soul album (it bears a greater UK pop influence) Retrospectives is enjoyable both for its continuity and for the overall strong performance that Ewing brings. It can be daunting being labeled as “the next big thing,” but withthe release of Retrospectives, Paul Ewing delivers the goods to back that title. Highly Recommended.
By Gabriel Rich