Paul Carrack - Good Feeling

Paul Carrack
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For forty years Paul Carrack has been a kind of mystery man to U.S. audiences, the unknown voice behind so many of their favorite songs. As the lead singer on top hits by Ace, Squeeze and Mike + the Mechanics, Carrack provided the memorable voice to #1 hits ranging from "Tempted" to "The Living Years," all the while receiving far more accolades from his peers than from the unknowing general public. However, after spending the majority of his career in groups, for the last decade and a half Carrack has focused almost exclusively on his solo career, issuing one enjoyable pop/soul CD after another and continuing to grow his quiet legacy as he enters his early 60s.

For forty years Paul Carrack has been a kind of mystery man to U.S. audiences, the unknown voice behind so many of their favorite songs. As the lead singer on top hits by Ace, Squeeze and Mike + the Mechanics, Carrack provided the memorable voice to #1 hits ranging from "Tempted" to "The Living Years," all the while receiving far more accolades from his peers than from the unknowing general public. However, after spending the majority of his career in groups, for the last decade and a half Carrack has focused almost exclusively on his solo career, issuing one enjoyable pop/soul CD after another and continuing to grow his quiet legacy as he enters his early 60s.

Carrack's newest, the self-released Good Feeling, in part acknowledges the soundtrack of his long musical life, while at the same time delivering the kind of laid back, soulful grooves that have made the 21st Century a critically productive period for him.  Good Feeling opens with a quick travelogue of early 60s music, spanning bubble gum R&B ("Marmalade Moon"), the Motown sound ("Good Feeling") and even a touch of Stax ("Nothing Without You"). But just as the album appears to be headed in the Ryan Shaw/James Hunter direction, it begins a surprise but steady movement into more familiar soulful adult contemporary territory. "I Can Hear Ray," the album's first single, bridges that progression, summoning the ghost of Ray Charles while moving into a softer pop/soul style of a Gerry Rafferty. What follows is a string of songs that play to Carrack's greatest strengths: "From Now On," "Long Ago" and "I Don't Wanna Lose Your Love" are hook-filled AC confections over which Carrack drapes his sweet tenor. And best of all is "If I Should Fall Behind," a simply beautiful cut that sounds like it came from the Eagles' songbook but lyrically provides an unusual, touching promise of fidelity amidst the fragility of life.  Carrack then moves back to the retro feeling that started the album, providing the best of the throwback bunch with the Motown-influenced "Time To Move On."

At a time when so many legacy artists are phoning it in on albums of tired classic soul and pop covers, Paul Carrack gets some credit for providing new material for his partial 60s tribute on Good Feeling -- even if those moments are at times a bit too precious.  What ultimately makes Good Feeling work is what has made Carrack's albums of the last decade so uniformly enjoyable: A seemingly endless supply of great melodies and production that is both rich and elegant in its high wire balancing of pop, soul and jazz. There are enough good compositions here that Good Feeling would be memorable even with a lesser singer, but with one of the great popular singers of our time fronting it, all is elevated. It is still difficult to understand how a voice so understated can also be so irresistible, but Paul Carrack's instrument continues to be a one of a kind treasure.  It is that voice, combined with the keen sense he has shown as a writer and musician over the past decade, that explains more than why Paul Carrack has outlasted most of his 70s music peers; it explains why we still cherish each new release from this old master. Highly Recommended.

By Chris Rizik

 

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