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When Paul Carrack was 15, the careers officer at school in Sheffield made him and his class an offer they wished they could refuse. But it helped him decide what he already knew: that his future lay in music.
“When we were coming up to leaving school, they took us to the local coalmine,” he remembers. “That was the best money around at the time. So you go down in the cage a really long way, then you get on a little train track, and that went a really long way too. You get out, and you’re walking, and I trod on this bloke sitting there having his sandwiches in the dark. Then you get to the coal face and it’s low, you’re crawling around under there. They’ve got the hydraulic props, dust flying everywhere. I was claustrophobic anyway. And it was ‘Get me out of here. Give me that bloody guitar and let me learn a few more chords.’”
In a weird way, thank goodness for that careers officer. Playing music has been Paul’s life ever since, across a half-century in which he paid plenty of dues before turning into Britain’s best blue-eyed soul singer-writer, and purveyor of songs that are deep in the DNA of pop history. The BBC documentary about his life and times wasn’t called ‘The Man With The Golden Voice’ for nothing.
After many years of selflessly helping other artists look great, Paul is ready to reach new heights of his own with ‘These Days‘. It’s his 17th album in his own name, and since the turn of the century, Paul has quietly built a huge, loyal fan base, the udience that not aonly devours his albums, but turns out to see his frequent, extensive tours in their thousands. He’s done that the only way he knows, by making high-quality, accessible pop-soul with unmissable hooks and lyrics that say something about all of our lives.
That’s more true than ever on ‘These Days.’ The album’s stunning line-up features Paul on keyboards and guitar and regular bandmate Jeremy Meek on bass, joined by Robbie McIntosh (Paul McCartney, Pretenders, Norah Jones, John Mayer) on lead guitar and drummer Steve Gadd, an Eric Clapton bandmate who has graced the work of everyone from Steely Dan to James Taylor.
As if their exemplary playing wasn’t enough, the album’s horn section is hand-picked and overseen by the mighty Pee Wee Ellis, the American saxophone ace who was an integral part of James Brown’s shows and records of the vintage ‘Cold Sweat’ era. Five tracks on ‘These Days’ have lyrics by Paul’s friend, former Squeeze bandmate and consummate wordsmith Chris Difford.
By the time Carrack hit the road again early in 2018 for another huge, sellout tour (how many other artists do you know who can do those between albums?), he was ready to road-test a couple of the new tunes, and now we can enjoy all of them. Plenty, from the title track to ‘Where Does The Time Go?,’ ‘The Best I Could’ and ‘Dig Deep,’ strike a glass-half-full, pensive mood about the long road travelled and the adventures still to come. “When I think about it, we’ve come a long, long way,” as Paul sings on the typically catchy and beguiling ‘Amazing.’
How long has this been going on? From those first musical adventures, it really is 50 years, and it’s only getting better. ‘These Days’ is grown-up pop music made by, and for, people who’ve had the ups and downs that life unfailingly provides.
Carrack says “It’s about getting to an age, and appreciating what you’ve got, I hope it will resonate with people who are going through the same stuff. It’s not being frightened of it, and just trying to enjoy it.”
2019 UK Tour Dates:
18th-19th – Liverpool, Philharmonic Hall
20th – Leeds, Town Hall
25th – Birmingham, Symphony Hall
26th – York, The Barbican
27th – Gateshead , The Sage
1st – Perth, Concert Hall
2nd – Hull City Hall
- 3rd – Cambridge, Corn Exchange
8th – Bournemouth, Pavilions
9th – Plymouth, Pavilions
10th – Swansea, Brangwyn Hall
14th – Nottingham, Royal Concert Hall
15th – Milton Keynes Theatre
16th – Margate Winter Gardens
22nd – Edinburgh Festival Theatre
23rd – Dunfermline, Alhambra Theatre
24th – Glasgow, Royal Concert Hall
- 1st – Southend, Cliffs Pavilion
2nd – London, Palladium
3rd – Birmingham, Symphony Hall
8th – Guildford, G Live
9th – Aylesbury, Waterside Theatre
10th – Cardiff, St David’s Hall
14th – Sheffield, City Hall
15th – Leicester, De Montfort Hall
16th – Brighton Centre
22nd – Middlesbrough Town Hall
23rd – Harrogate, Convention Centre
24th – Salford, The Lowry
For more information on the album or tour visit www.paulcarrack.net.