Paul Childers – Naked Poetry
Thirteen songs on Naked Poetry give us an amazing picture of Paul Childers’ talents. He’s debuting with a well honed songwriting sense and presentation much different than what we typically hear from first albums. Childers specializes singing over groove oriented R&B arrangements with great drumming and a tasteful amount of guitar, but there are some blues strains running through the track that gives it an added spin. It isn’t all about the music, however. The lyrical content is top notch as well and Childers does a superb job of conveying his songwriting in a lucid way and never fails to pursue entertaining ends. You can’t teach this sort of self assurance out of the gate. Childers sounds like a fully rounded talent with no discernible weaknesses in his presentation. He comes on like a major talent and there’s little question he has the staying power to make great hay out of this opportunity.
He comes out of his corner swinging. The first song “Music Pulls You Through” is a wonderfully detail ode to the redemptive power of this art. Childers has the good sense to set this sentiment up within terms any listener can understand and the musical backing has genuine buoyancy that listeners will find difficult to resist. The album’s second track “The Art of Being Twenty” is another high point on an album full of such moments. This song, in the hands of a lesser talent, could have proven impossibly stilted and pretension “At Our Own Pace” begins with some rather lovely and elegiac piano lines before shifting gears into a steady, mid-tempo R&B vamp with some nice melodic turns and a great sing-a-long chorus. It is probably one of Naked Poetry’s most unexpected victories – Childers offers up a number of chorus turns that are so finely polished and well conceived you’d swear this is a performer with decades of experience. The obvious commercial implications of such strengths, likewise, cannot be diminished.
“My Love of the Rain” seems to be setting us up for something big from the start and doesn’t disappoint. Childers means this to be a show-stopper number of sorts and it accomplishes that goal by never overplaying its hand. A less confident, certain talent might have went in for the kill here and tried to deliver some sort of definitive musical and performing statement, but Childers embraces nuance over grandiosity and it pays off enormously well for both him and the audience. The sentiment is relatively simple, but he plays so well off it that a host of implications arise added deeper levels to the song. The title song is a rhythmically interesting number, short and to the point, but it feels like a full song despite its diminutive length. It’s a testament to the songwriting prowess that makes up this album thanks to his ability to encompass so much in this short of a tune. “Emma” is reminiscent of the title song in some respects – it breaks with the album’s standard R&B formula in favor of something more diverse and comfortable on a stairway of surprise. The album’s final song, “Stay a While Longer”, takes him into decidedly bluesier territory than before and Childers sounds every bit as convincing in this role as he does working like a R&B balladeer. There’s nothing this performer can’t do. Paul Childers brings the full gamut of talents to Naked Poetry and it’s a release that leaves a mark on its listeners.