From the opening strumming in “Doubt,” to the closing sentiments of “The Balad of Arlo the Seagull,” Madison, Wisconsin-based singer-songwriter Paul Creswell allows the emotion behind his music shine through. With his first studio album aptly titled The Talesman, Creswell puts forth an incredibly strong record. The Talesman is filled with Creswell‘s incredible songwriting and emotion filled lullaby like vocals. It’s soft and beautifulyet it carries a certain weight throughout the entire record.
I often find myself listen to certain albums when I’m in certain moods, as I’m sure most people do. While I was initially drawn to this album on a relaxing afternoon, I’ve come to find that I can listen to it at any time and it will PUT me in the mood to continue listening. Everything about this album is appealing, and it draws you in almost instantly.
Creswell’s style is soft, emotional, and simple. I can’t say that it’s completely unique, because many singer-songwriters follow a similar formula. However, Creswell seems to have an understanding, a mastery, of how to make it work better than most performers. His soft croon carries incredible melody throughout the record, and despite being soft and smooth, remains the focal point of the album. It’s obvious that Paul values the songwriting and story telling more than anything, as the restraint and simplicity of his instruments really allows his songwriting ability to shine.
Whether it’s the simple patterns, beautiful vocal delivery, or restrained (yet very noteworthy) melody held by acoustic guitar, paino, harmonica and occasional effects, this album is an incredibly enjoyable listen. Whatever instrument is being played, it complements the vocal delivery well. While it remains just a complement for the most part, the instrumental work still leaves the listener with a great respect for Creswell’s playing.
What we have is an incredibly gifted songwriter, a very talented musician, and a very moving piece of music. With this album, Paul Creswell should cement himself in the upper ranks of modern songwriters. Despite many people following a similar approach to their music, Creswell performs in a way that makes him instantly recognizable. His understanding of how to write emotional and moving music will keep this album in my rotation for a long time.
The Talesman is available as digital download, digipak CD and black vinyl from Bandcamp. Photos of the limited hand-numbered vinyl edition of 100 copies, including a lyric insert can be seen below. Read an interview with Paul Creswell here.