A Review of the CD
"Translucent Soul"
by Ellis Paul

"Translucent Soul"
by Ellis Paul

Philo 11671-1200-2
copyright 1998
Rounder Records Corporation
One Camp Street
Cambridge, MA 02140


This review is written by Kevin McCarthy, 5/99
"Kevin and Maxine’s Celtic & Folk Music CD Reviews"
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An introspective exploration of the flesh and spirit permeates Ellis Paul's latest release, "Translucent Soul." With the dissolution of his marriage providing both impetus and grist for the mill, the eleven songs and one hidden track contained here reach beyond the surface content of each cut to examine fear, loss, forgiveness, love, faith, anger, mystery and acceptance.

Despite his loss and the resulting maelstrom of personal emotions, this is not a collection of rants and whines. Paul is seemingly incapable of pedestrian lyrics--his literate prose elevates each of his enchanting discourses to an artful degree. His emotion-laden and passionate vocals synergistically dovetail with both his material and musical backing.

Paul remains a masterful musical impressionist, rarely presenting a straightforward, connect-the-dots landscape. He skillfully draws in the listener by depicting easily identifiable, universal situations and emotions. However, the portraiture of each of his commonplace pictures is made remarkable in his hands. The imagery he presents typically provides leeway for subjective interpretation, allowing the canvas to be embellished by each listener.

In "Seven," unable to call, write or wait any longer, he regretfully attempts some closure in a relationship:

Delving into a completely different relationship landmine with "She Loves a Girl," Paul addresses disapproving parents of a lesbian couple with "she loves a girl, what are you gonna do--if you love her too?" and "one love at the cost of another, man, that's when love really hurts." Speaking to the couple involved, he closes the song with: Reverting back to the emotional morass of loss in "Bring Me Backwards" he sings: In both "Live In the Now" and "The World Ain't Slowin' Down" Paul philosophizes about life's choices and the relativity of appreciation. In "...Now" he sings: In "...Slowin' Down", he questions if the ending of a relationship is freedom gained or lost? He sings: The touching and delightful "Angel in Manhattan," is a plea to leave at least a little room in our heads and hearts for faith and the possibility of miracles. As the angel in the story says paralleling the roadblocks and potholes of human daily life to her duties: "I never much liked flying, but the job requires trying, the hard part's avoiding buildings and concrete...". Addressing the present day onslaught of cynicism surrounding humanity, Paul cannily reverses roles during the angel's brush with the press: "Translucent Soul" is a tribute to and expression of love for Paul's good friend Vance Gilbert. He closes out the song with: This is obviously an extremely heartfelt and very intimate release. Everyone will easily find something to identify with here, plus the delivery and backing are superb. May we never have to endure what Paul has just personally gone through but here's one person who thanks him for sharing it.

Paul on acoustic guitar, harmonica and vocals is assisted by Jerry Marotta on drums and bass guitar; Tony Levin on bass; Bill Dillon on acoustic and electric guitar and mandolin; Harvey Jones on keyboards and piano; Duke Levin on electric guitar; Don Conoscenti on electric guitar; Chris Nekvinda on acoustic guitar; James Rotondi on bazouki and acoustic guitar; Dar Williams, Brooke Burton, Mark Tanzer and Ralph Jacodine on backup vocals.

Track List:

All songs written by Ellis Paul.

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