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Paul McLaney


Growing up in the shadows of North-East England's sprawling petrochemical factories then transplanted worlds away to the idle wiles of Aotearoa's northern reaches; music was the only constant in the life of Paul McLaney, singer and guitar-player. Yet his music has only furthered his travels, and his stylistic leanings have been anything but constant. From folky pop and thunderous rock 'n' roll spanning the exploits of his band Gramsci to complete immersion in electronic music collaborations, McLaney's life has been one of movement.

McLaney’s earlier efforts illustrate the many threads that he weaves into his musical tapestry. Beginning with 1998’s The Prayer Engine, a solo effort of 2000 copies sold at McLaney’s first public outings as a performer, turning through the gentle electronically-tinged folk pop of Gramsci’s first two albums Permanence (2000) and Object (2001) with collaborator David Holmes, the soul-searching acoustic purity of 2003’s The Shadows of Birds Flying Fall Slowly Down the Tall Buildings before 2005’s critically-acclaimed return of Gramsci, complete with hard-charged grandiose guitar rock, on Like Stray Voltage, McLaney has traversed musical horizons like the traveller he is.

In 2006, McLaney went south, heading to Dunedin to record his first Loop released album, Edin – at the NZBC recording studio with recording engineer, Dale Cotton, drummer Nick Gaffeney and bass player Richie Pickard. The critically acclaimed and Tui nominated album, was a turning point for McLaney and saw him come close to finding paradise, and to finding himself as a musician.

His second album through Loop, Diamond Side - a folk album full of fingerstyle guitar songs, released in 2007 - garnered high praise as one of the albums of the year (Dominion Post) and saw him yet again travel – this time to Los Angeles to record with Michael Frondelli (Crowded House, Led Zeppelin, Rolling Stones).

A talented guitarist and vocalist, Paul has collaborated with many of New Zealands's top musical talent including Fly My Pretties, SJD, Anika Moa, Rhian Sheehan, Module, Graeme Downes, Victoria Kelly and Jakob.


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muzic.net.nz Admin

Joined: 01/01/02
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Paul McLaney: Diamond Side
Posted: Wed Nov 21, 2007 10:32 pm

A Word From Paul...

The world connects when like-minded souls speak honestly to one another, without pretension or false modesty.

The fundamental aspect of music that I have always shared the greatest affinity with is the human voice and acoustic guitar. Be it Bert Jansch and Nick Drake, Robert Johnson or Bob Dylan, the essential purity of one person alone, creating a vivid musical canvas on which to detail their observations and emotional responses is the music I always come back to. While this has always stirred the deepest empathy for me personally, I've never been entirely sure why. I've considered it might be something akin to the fact that I can't deny the way Celtic melodies move me.

I've been fortunate enough to have collaborated in a wide variety of musical disciplines with some very talented friends: as part of Gramsci, SJD, Concord Dawn, Anika Moa, Jakob, Module, Rhian Sheehan, Graeme Downes, Victoria Kelly. The value of each experience has been to contextually reveal to me a greater understanding of my true musical self. As a musician I have always strived to improve. In the course of this application I have come to understand that to "improve" is to move closer to my own personal truths; to be a pioneer is not, in my opinion, to be confused with riding the vanguard of popular fashion and thought but to live at the edge of your unique place as an individual.

"EDIN" the album I recorded last year in Dunedin was the major catalyst for realising this understanding. To have it nominated for a Tui this year in the Best Male category is one of my proudest achievements as a creative artist working in New Zealand. During the course of promoting and touring the "EDIN" songs, a new collection of material arrived steadily as if invited by the sensibilities my solo performances were establishing. I relished the challenge of painstakingly working on the songs as complete entities unto themselves. The guitar was my studio, my band, my entire framework outside of the lyric.

Lyrics collide with music, they float in music, they pull meaning out of melodies and recognise in them their divine essence. All of the 12 songs on "Diamond Side" are love songs of one form or another.

To me the love song is the most perfect form of the songwriting discipline. Love exists in the space between people's words and love songs yearn for the want of another heart to hear them. The space between lyric and melody makes each of them richer and that space between is a metaphor for how love is realised amongst us all. Love songs seek to shorten the distance between love and longing.

Recording the album in Los Angeles took me out of my comfort zone and made me knuckle down to the task at hand. Added to that the experience and wisdom that producer/engineer Michael Frondelli (Crowded House, Led Zeppelin, Rolling Stones) provided, I felt completely energised to capture performances of these songs that would merit my own investment into them. Everything was captured as live performances over 2 sessions on August 15th and 17th, 2007.

I hope you enjoy the album.

Paul McLaney

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