Album Review: Paul Sikes - Craft
By: Matt Bjorke
For every hit single that comes out of Nashville, there are hundreds of other great songs that are just waiting to be heard and that seems to be the genesis of why Paul Sikes decided to record his album Craft. A collection of 11 songs, Craft is just what the title suggests, a collection of mostly acoustic-based country songs with all but one or two written and performed by the songwriter himself. Throughout Craft Sikes showcases a tendency to make compelling story songs like "A Seed," a song which tells of amazing things that can be done with a tree's wood and the seed from which the tree sprang. "Swear I'm In A Small Town" finds Sikes speaking of how he's still able to visualize living in a small town just by looking in the eyes of his lover. It's a sweet, unique take on a love song and something that could potentially be a big hit for someone like Keith Urban.
"Show You How" is a sweet, sultry love ballad written with and featuring Jordyn Shellhart on harmony vocals. The song finds Sikes in country soul mode a la James Otto and Billy Currington and the production is light and allows the melody and groove to get between your ears. "I Can Give You One" is a fun tune that was written with David Adam Byrnes and Justin Wilson and finds another unique spin on a country love song. "Tin Man" is the lone song not written by Sikes on the album (outside of the sweet bluegrass bonus cut on the physical CD. Written by Jennifer Zuffinetti, Ben Carver and Drew Davis, "Tin Man" is a melodic new spin on the old theme set in the classic book and film Wizard of Oz. Yep, it means the narrator in the song has no heart.
"Dysfunction" is laid out over an interesting groove and showcases how two dysfunctional people are going to with the news that they're unfit to be in a relationship, let alone get married and raise a child and build a life together. This is the kind of song that the Band Perry has built an interesting career with and it'd be cool to see them or another artist take a chance on this dystopian tale of 'marriage bliss' from Sikes, Justin Wilson and Brandy Clark. "Train Wreck" is a song which showcases some humor and its through this song and the tender songs like "A Seed" and "My Epitaph" that showcase a songwriter who is at the top of his game. "Epitaph," in particular, shows just how much a man loves his wife and that she will always be the best thing about his life. It's the only song solely written by Sikes on this recording that was self-made in his Green Hills neighborhood home.
"Me, You And Malibu" is a jazzy tune while "Sittin' By A River" has a muscular feel to it that sounds like the kind of song you'd hear on mainstream Country Radio these days. This is one of the first albums to get released in the USA in 2013 (it got a soft launch on iTunes in 2013) and what a great way to start of the new year with new music. This, friends, is the kind of album that shows everything that's right about Nashville and its community of artists. Craft is a - well - well crafted album worthy of any and all attention that comes Paul Sikes way. (He received some notoriety in 2012 after "The Today Show" host Hoda Kotb saw him perform "A Seed" at The Bluebird Cafe and asked Sikes onto the program where he performed "My Epitaph").
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