Paddy Nash – Gate Fever
Nash is no stranger to the Northern Ireland music scene, but his latest long player sees him go back to a more stripped back folkier sound than perhaps some fans will be used to. Here we take a look at some of the highlights of his new offering.
Opening with ‘Connor’, the song sets the scene for a record that is full of story songs about characters and lifestyle. In this instance, the main protagonist is an aspiring singer/songwriter desperate to break through and follow his dream while daily battling the constant call of popular covers in the pub. The tale unfolds through the eyes of an older, perhaps tired songwriter who tries his best to advise but not necessarily manage.
A more sombre tale unfolds in ‘Gate Fever’. A tale set in prison surroundings that takes the listener on a journey through incarceration. As the song unfolds were are introduced to teachers and hardcore bullies who cry in the night while the recently sentenced struggles to come to terms with his claustrophobic new surroundings and reflects on the brief loss of control that brought him to this place.
Tonight I lay thinking of the choices that I made. How my worst ten minutes took me where I am today.
By ‘Thomas The Troll’, Nash is in full contemporary observational mode. Cleverly taking a look inside the mind of an internet troll, Nash conjures up an image of a lost, angry, and lonely man still living at home with his mother who lashes out at the world in a constant cycle of cowardly keyboard abuse that’s often fuelled by his reading of the D*ily M*il. While the character is undoubtedly vile, Nash cleverly twists the song to almost leave the listener feeling sympathy for this sad, soulless, and conflicted, individual.
He says goodnight to his mother and as he turns out the light, checks the router turns on the computer and settles down for the night.
The effects of environmental damage by big business are explored in ‘Meanwhile On The Golf Course’. A tale in which fat-cat businessmen laugh on the golf course about escaping their terrible deeds, by the power of their wealth while the health of the working class suffers.
While in this context the song relates to the environment, it also can be transposed onto the effects of the recent property and banking crises in the way that it shows that those at the top always seem to walk away leaving the working class to suffer the result of their wrong doings.
A warning to the future rears its head in ‘You And Me Both’. Almost dystopian in its message the song warns about the perils of false media on already embedded prejudices. No matter how technologically advanced society becomes, unless we stop to listen, learn about, and interact with each other by the year 2117 we’ll be an even more divided society on the brink of collapse further into racial and religious intolerance.
Naivety and youthfulness are explored in ‘Bonfire Night’. An often divisive subject, Nash shows it through the eyes of youth exploring the excitement felt collecting tyres, stealing wood, impressing girls followed by an impression of a causal acceptance of violence. Nash appears to portray a culture of innocence to describe a working class childhood in partial ignorance and acceptance of the sectarian events of the time in which it is set. No skipping down in the hollow in romanticised fashion here.
Spent the day chopping trees, stealing tyres from old farmers yard. Throwing stones getting chased by the army to the old reservoir.
Perhaps the most contemporary feeling song on the record is ‘We Are The Dead’. Leaning heavily on Orwell’s masterpiece ‘1984’, the song has a haunting contemporary feel to it. Based on a dream the song describes a world without poets, culture, and learning. It feels too close to home in the Trump/Brexit era fuelled by fake news in which we currently find ourselves.
Nash’s Record is a rich tapestry of tales featuring vivid and rounded characters whose lives we can all relate to or know. While some listeners might be disappointed by the lack of backing band The Happy Enchiladas on the record and their bombastic sound, the stripped back arrangements allow the songs to breathe and Nash to deliver a harder bite.
Clever observation of people and situations are Nash’s strengths in songwriting, and interspersed with a strong empathy for the underdog, Nash has subtly delivered his own fanfare for the working man on this record.