Liverpool Sound and Vision Rating * * * * *
Winter is upon us, the dark nights have crawled in, the fog of uncertainty has become a more dangerous proposition and the furious and the disenchanted have taken root inside the minds of all who consider scorn and unwarranted cynicism a viable solution to the problems that we face together. It is in that almost unshakable nihilism that the brightness of a single star can be seen as a wonder, that to find a reason to show the sneering and the put down merchants why exactly you should be able to say calmly the words, Made My Peace With You, without stooping to their level.
For Paul Dunbar & The Black Winter Band, an album is to be celebrated, time has been incredibly well spent between the appearance at Leaf in late 2016 and this moment in which the full force of Paul Dunbar’s music and lyrics come striking home with the force of a tornado; time has for once been kept busy, unable to sabotage the willingness of laid down personal experiences and the beautiful pain of release.
Aided by a collection of musicians and vocalists that would grace the inlay cards of any album released in 2017, Paul Dunbar has fulfilled a promise that was uttered, perhaps as a throw away unconscious thought at the time, to lay down his soul on the album when it saw the light of day; in the darkness of winter, a song of spring hope can be a guiding light in which to steer safely by.
With Liam Atkinson, Chris Pearce, Phil Stevens, Callum Williams and Tom Cowley in amongst the musician’s circle and Nicola Hardman, Camilla Sky, Claire Aurelie Latimer and Ollie Neash adding a beautiful selection of backing vocals through the album, the promise has been more than fulfilled, it has been overwhelmingly endorsed, a word given by a gentleman.
In songs such as the opening track The Losing Game, Ballad Of Four Eyes, Set Free To Emotion, the fantastic Earth Sky Or The Raging Sea, one of the great songs of the last ten years in Hands Down and Who’s Gunna Love You, Paul Dunbar & The Black Winter Band have set forth a tornado in which to sweep away the cold and unfeeling, in which even with honest and searing, passionate dark lyrics which unfold like a piece of origami art, there comes light.
Made My Peace With You, a mantra we should all try to live by!
Ian D. Hall