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Album Review: Paul Heaton – Acid Country

3 min read

Notable as the front-man of the successful Beautiful South and the Housemartins, Paul Heaton has released his third solo record this week titled Acid Country.

Venturing into solodom for a third time, Paul Heaton’s latest release, Acid Country, his first since 2008’s The Cross Eyed Rambler, infuses elements of country, blue eyed soul and jazz with his signature pop sound and wraps it up tightly with an insightful vocalist spitting lyrics of depth and melancholy to create a delicate yet controversial record of intriguing and genre blending gems.

PaulHeatonAcidCountryThe Rotterdam singer has been around for almost thirty years and has released records that have grown the musician quite a large fan base and cult following due to not only the lyrical depth of his records but also the delivery and intensity of the work he writes. Each song on a Paul Heaton album is both inspiring and captivating and his latest record, Acid Country, is no different.

The record contains some of the best work Heaton has released over his lengthy career and Acid Country is a treat for his existing fans as well as those unfamiliar with the musician – a perfect introduction to those new to the world of the English song-smith.

The album opens with The Old Radio. Immediately you are introduced to the rawness of what is going to accompany the following nine tracks that make up Acid Country. The Old Radio is a standout on the album. The subtle trumpet laden chorus lines are memorable and complimenting for this sporty album opener.

Even A Palm Tree is a controversial and argumentative track which jumps between a fictional married couple and the realities of Heaton’s alcoholic past. Heaton’s drunken slurrings mix well with his female counterparts vented vocals. This one is a catchy number for the record and the clear highlight when it comes to those most memorable on Acid Country. The lyrics throughout the track are packed full of witty desperation and frustration.

Slow and atmospheric strummer Young Man’s Game follows and the tone to the record drops slightly as Heaton’s storytelling takes over in full force along with his droopy chorus garbling. The track is a lengthy addition which embraces a  male choir in the closing of the track.

Welcome To The South is a snappy number with an boppy vintage beat and Heaton’s vocals suit the track probably more than any other song on the record. Welcome To The South is a nostalgic addition that wreaks of Americana and is a song that Heaton has described as being one about the loss of Northerness.

The album wouldn’t be complete without a Heaton ballad and it comes in perfect form with Life As A Cat. The song is a light inclusion which lets go of life’s mundane and suffocating moments for the impetuous attitude of our feline friends. It’s a swaying number that offers a slice of nonchalant charm.

The albums title track gets some lengthy attention on the record with a lifespan of eight minutes and is a rolling track which is more like a singalong menu than a refined work of musical artistry. Cornish pasties, polish beer and a bowl of crisps all get their own share of limelight on Acid Country and although lyrically the track is unappealing the melody is what is rather infectious and make it quite a likeable appendage to the album.

The album doesn’t match anything that The Beautiful South were responsible for, particularly in their nineties glory days but Acid Country is nonetheless a quality record for a long standing musician.

Acid Country is a confident collection of original and fresh yet almost old time reminescent pieces of musical splendour and one that I am sure will pull in the crowds for Heaton’s promotion tour of the record this year.