Paul Den Heyer deserves to be more widely known. He made his first splash with Fishmonkeyman in the 90’s – who’s If I’ve Told You Once was a memorable Britpop hit in the early 90’s. From there he’s played with and produced many memorable bands – two of them very dear to my heart. I’m talking about the summer drenched tunes of Sunstack Jones and John Lever’s project The Red-Sided Garter Snakes – whose two albums showcased several artists influenced and inspired by John and his work with The Chameleons and The Sun and the Moon. It was a last influx of creativity before John passed away and it left me wondering what would come next from these artists, chief among them Paul Den Heyer. I didn’t have to wait long, as Paul’s been in touch with me letting me know about his solo work and sharing snippets over the “world wide web”. And now that it is here, how does it stack up? Does it live up to everything I had hoped?
Have you ever heard anyone describe the summertime blues? Summertime sadness? Bummer in the summer? How about viewing the past through rose coloured lenses? Everything So Far takes all those feelings and wraps them in a sun kissed mix of folk, Americana, and Britpop. An intoxicating brew, to be sure. Some of the record calls to mind – heavily – Beachwood Sparks, Mojave 3, Honeychurch, Michael Nesmith solo, and Sunstack Jones. Lyrically, there is a wistfulness that is deeply affecting. How about the sound of the record? There’s a spaciousness to the sound that calls to mind Liam Watson’s production work at Toe Rag Studios with Television Personalities and the slightly lesser know The White Stripes. Mind you, Paul’s record doesn’t sound anything like those bands – the similarities are in the way the instrument separation is prominent along with the clean production. I like it. Yes, I like it a lot. But what good is excellent production unless there are tunes worth playing and singing? And fortunately for all of us, Paul’s made an album full of them.
Technicolour Summer Sunshine is the 1st single and leads off the album. It is a gorgeous country tinged gem that sets the tone for the entire album. The 1st time I heard it, it called to mind the summers of my youth, sitting on the beaches of New Jersey. But always – there’s always that feeling that nothing really, truly lasts. And this song captures that feeling in a bottle. The song drifts by at just shy of 4 minutes, the lap steel guitar intertwining with the melody. “Some day the sun will shine / Somewhere to ease my mind”. Gorgeous. Clear Sunlight View doubles down on the country vibes and takes a more hopeful lyrical stance. It serves as a 1-2 punch to open the album, a different side of the same emotional stance. “Meet some who / Feels something true”. Money Cloud is a protest song of sorts – a cry against the injustice of the things in this world that never seem to change. Does the money ever really trickle down to the working class? Not in my lifetime. Probably not in yours, either. A more straightforward indie rock tune here with sublime guitar work. Lyrically, this is strong stuff. “Same old town, another space has been closed down / Money cloud, still waiting for the trickle down / To the people most in need / Same excuses, same old greed for everything”. Home Song opens with an interesting layered a cappella vocal before leading into the song proper. It is a jaunty song with gorgeous melodies & instrumentation. A fireside sing-along. Perfection.
I could have highlighted each song on this record – it is that strong. But what I recommend, is that you seek this one out, put it on the turntable, and allow the music to seep into your soul. I picked up the limited edition vinyl, but of course you can stream or purchase this digitally here.
Verdict: Feelings of the summer
For Fans of: Mojave 3, Honeychurch, Beachwood Sparks, Neil Young, Sunstack Jones, Mazzy Star
- Technicolor Summer Sunshine
- Clear Sunlight View
- Illusions Shine Like Gold
- Unfolding (revisited)
- Money Cloud
- Passing Of The Season
- Home Song
- End Of The Summer
- Everything So Far