Paddy Milner - Walking On Eggshells

The anti-rock contingent have been taking a battering over the past 12 months with the likes of Katie Melua and Jamie Cullum being tried for crimes against music, but 2005 may just be the year that the artists beef up and widen their horizons a little. If Norah Jones appearing on the Foo Fighters new album was the first signs of them breaking the "rocking quietly" stronghold then Paddy Milner looks set to subterfuge the genre with a healthy does of humour.

"You Think You're So Damn Funny" works on two genius levels. On one hand it's just a simple Radio 2 friendly jazz tune in the vein of Jamie Cullum, if a little more energetic. The ivory's are tinkled and the song rattles along at a fair old pace. On the other hand it's a damning indictment of celebrity such as Robbie Williams - "Your verbal diarrhoea, just never disappears. Your mouth works overtime, but all you do is whine". Now this is how you do a swing track Robster!!!

"After The Rain" is twee and schmaltzy and the string arrangement reminds us of the Emmerdale and Crossroads theme tunes, but some how it rescues itself 30 seconds in, turning from whimsy to heartfelt beautiful poetic verse. "Unsquare Dance" which many of you will have heard on Radio 2 for the best part of the last 6 months is a glorious moment which stutters, starts, is a veritable feast of rolling piano riffs and features the best use of handclaps in a song ever.

"Run For Cover" is a more serious affair with Milner playing the heartbroken cad crooning his way lyrics such as "Got so much pain to kill, stretching out in a long long line". It's "Dreamtime", and "Rollin And Tumblin" which follows, that Milner reminds of the fellow Scots, 80's duo Hue & Cry, more than any of the current crop of lounge singers. There's as much humour as there is sensitivity and each track is given a funky backbone on which to rest the quality songwriting on display here. When he launches into "Falling For The Moon", a drum and bass jazzathon, we're bewildered as where to place the 25 year old virtuoso.

Milner jumps from genre to genre, but is always firmly planted in his jazz schooling. "Walking On Eggshells" is an enchanting album that does for jazz what Jason Mraz did for singer-songwriters. An essential purchase!!!

Alex McCann

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